Skip to main content

Full text of "Human geography of the South; a study in regional resources and human adequacy"

See other formats

San Francisco, California 




BECKWITH: Black Roadways: A Study of Folk Life in Jamaica $3.00 

BRANSON : Farm Life Abroad 2.00 

*BREARLEY : Homicide in the United States 2.50 

BROWN : Public Poor Relief in North Carolina 2.00 

*BROWN : The State Highway System of North Carolina 2.50 

*BROWN : A State Movement in Railroad Development 5.00 

CARTER: The Social Theories of L. T. Hobhouse 1.50 

CROOK: The General Strike 6.00 

FLEMING: The Freedmen's Savings Bank 2.00 

GEE (ed.) : The Country Life of the Nation 2.00 

*GREEN: Constitutional Development in the South Atlantic States, 1776-1860,. 3.00 

GREEN : The Negro in Contemporary American Literature 1.00 

*GRISSOM : The Negro Sings a New Heaven and a New Earth 2.50 

HAR : Social Laws 4.00 

*HEER : Income and Wages in the South 1.00 

HERRING: History of the Textile Industry in the South In Preparation 

HERRING: Welfare Work in Mill Villages 5.00 

HOBBS: North Carolina: Economic and Social 3.50 

JOHNSON: Folk Culture on Saint Helena Island 3.00 

JOHNSON : John Henry : Tracking Down a Negro Legend 2.00 

JOHNSON : A Social History of the Sea Islands 3.00 

JORDAN : Children's Interests in Reading 1.50 

KNIGHT: Among the Danes 2.50 

LINDQUIST: The Family in the Present Social Order 2.50 

Lou : Juvenile Courts in the United States 3 00 

MCCRACKEN : Strike Injunctions in the New South 3.00 

METFESSEL: Phonophotography in Folk Music 3.00 

MILLER : Town and Country 2.00 

MITCHELL: William Gregg: Factory Master of the Old South 3.00 

MITCHELL: Textile Unionism and the South 1.00 

MURCHISON : King Cotton is Sick 2.00 

NORTH : Social Differentiation 2.50 

ODUM : An Approach to Public Welfare and Social Work 1.50 

ODUM (ed.) : Southern Pioneers 2.00 

ODUM AND JOHNSON : The Negro and His Songs 3.00 

ODUM AND JOHNSON : Negro Workaday Songs 3.00 

ODUM AND WILLARD: Systems of Public Welfare 2.00 

POUND: Law and Morals 2.00 

PUCKETT: Folk Beliefs of the Southern Negro 5.00 

RHYNE: Some Southern Cotton Mill Workers and Their Villages 2.50 

ROBINSON: A Changing Psychology in Social Case Work 2.50 

Ross: Roads to Social Peace 1.50 

SCHWENNING (ed.) : Management Problems 2.00 

SHERRILL: Criminal Procedure in North Carolina 3.00 

STEINER AND BROWN : The North Carolina Chain Gang 2.00 

VANCE: Human Factors in Cotton Culture 3.00 

VANCE: Human Geography of the South 4.00 

WAGER: County Government in North Carolina 5.00 

WALKER: Social Work and the Training of Social Workers 2.00 

WAY: The Clinchfield Railroad 5.00 

WHITE: Some Cycles of Cathay 1.50 

WILLEY: The Country Newspaper 1.50 

WINSTON : Illiteracy in the United States 3.00 

WOOFTER: The Plight of Cigarette Tobacco. , 1.00 

The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, N. C.; The 
Ba^er and Taylor Co., New Yor^; Oxford University Press, 
London; The Maruzen Company, To\yo; Edward Evans & 
Sons, Ltd., Shanghai; D. B. Centen's Wetenschappelifte Eoe\- 
handel, Amsterdam. 





Research Associate, Institute for Research in Social Science , 
University of North Carolina 








REGIONALISM and the new geography afford a point of vantage from 
which this volume views the American South as a test of human 
adequacy to master the resources of its region and to develop thereon 
a distinctive and competent culture. 

However much he would have enjoyed it, the author has not 
written a regional sociology of the South. Nor does he contend that 
the relation of the resources of a region to the cultural adequacy of 
its population yet forms the subject matter of human geography. 
At such a point, however, converge the lines of force from geog- 
raphy, ecology, human biology, economics, and technology. Within 
this scaffolding of nature and culture has been erected the architec- 
ture of a region. With many a side glance at the historical develop- 
ment, this volume attempts to give a synthetic treatment of the 
interaction of men and nature in the American South. 

Acknowledgment is due first of all to the multitude of scholars 
whose monographs, bulletins, and journal articles have been con- 
sulted in this treatment. They will be found cited in footnotes and 
bibliography. For careful reading of the manuscript and many 
helpful criticisms I am indebted to Dr. Ulrich B. Phillips of Yale, 
Dr. Erich W. Zimmermann, Professor of Economics and Resources, 
University of North Carolina, Dr. A. N. J. den Hollander, Geog- 
rapher, University of Amsterdam, and Dr. Howard W. Odum, 
Director, Institute for Research in Social Science, University of 
North Carolina, and the Southern Regional Study of the Social 
Science Research Council. Possibly more than the author realizes 
the volume owes its style of approach to many stimulating contacts 
with Dr. Odum. Nor should the give and take with graduate 
seminars in Social Demography and Regional Sociology fail of 
acknowledgment. The arduous labors of editorial supervision have 
been shared by Dr. Katharine Jocher, while the manuscript has been 
read and the bibliography carefully checked by Rheba Usher Vance. 

Chapel Hill R ' B< V ' 

October 5, 1932 






Physical factors of the region Cultural factors of the region. 

I. Backgrounds: Physical and Cultured 


The South of many regions Physiographic regions Coastal plain Flor- 
ida The Piedmont plateau Appalachian highlands Ozark-Ouachita 

highlands The profile of culture The valley section through North 

Carolina The valley section through Tennessee Population distribution 
in the valley section through Georgia. 



To the Revolution in the coastal plain From the Revolution to the 
Civil War Population depletion m areas of early settlement. 



The southern frontier The frontier process Traits of the southern 
frontier Frontier and plantation in conflict The frontier heritage. 

II. Regions and Resources 



Physics of the soil The soil as product Soil areas of the South 
Human geography of soils Soil erosion The social geography of 
erosion Remedies for erosion. 




Pioneers and the forests Turpentining the piney woods Lumbering in 
the piney woods The future of the cut-over lands. 


Beginnings The frontier The plantation Grass in the South The 
South and the tick Cut-over pine lands The biological factor Dairy- 
ing in the cotton belt Present trends. 


Southern agriculture against the national background Cotton and the 
plantation The cotton system Cotton culture complex. 


Tobacco Rice Sugar Trucking regions in the South Southern fish- 
ing fringe. 


The southern highlands Mountain culture Cultural change Towns 
The Ozark-Ouachita highlands. 



The delta metropolis The delta of commerce The delta of agriculture 

Social incidence of flood. 



A Fringe Belt Water power Textiles in the Piedmont Rayon emerges 
The coal and iron district Tobacco manufacturing Furniture. 


From frontier to ranch From cattle to cotton The Rio Grande valley 
The industrial southwest The Gulf Coast's monopoly of sulphur 
The human geography of oil The Texas gulf port area Population 


///. Human Relations of Climate 



The South as climatic province The biology of climate The significance 
of climate to the culture of the South Historical development. 

CLIMATE, HEALTH, AND ENERGY .................................. 375 

The geography of disease Climate, health, and energy Hookworm and 
the South The geography of the hookworm Bio-social factors in hook- 
worm Malaria Geography of the disease Malaria and social resources 

Relation to energy and efficiency Eradication of malaria Rural 
malaria control. 

CLIMATE, DIET, AND HUMAN ADEQUACY .......................... 4!! 

The geography of diet The South's heritage of food The biology of 
diet The shifting American diet The southern menu today The share 
tenant The small owner The well-to-do farmer Culture areas in diet 

The South deviates from standards of nutrition Cultural change in 
food habits Regional diet and human adequacy. 

IV. Prospect and Retrospect 


The South's status Regional resource areas The basis in natural re- 
sources Transportation in the South Human adequacy in its biological 
aspects Social adequacy and economic organization Colonial economy 
and cultural status. 



Regionalism and regional planning Regionalism and the South The 
chamber of commerce movement The proponents of agrarianism The 
eclectic tasks of regionalism in the South The reorganization of south- 
ern agriculture Salvaging the marginal highlanders The new flood 
control The Florida beautification program Guiding the urban trend 
A folk renaissance for the South. 


INDEX . 58 1 



1. Agricultural Regions 13 

2. Soil Regions 82 

3. Soil Regions of the Cotton Belt 88 

4. Expenditures for Fertilizer by Farmers, 1924 96 

5. Farms Reporting Expenditure for Fertilizer, 1924 96 

6. Original Timber Regions no 

7. Forest, Cut-Over Land, and Woodland, 1920 134 

8. Hay Acreage, 1924 153 

9. Cattle and Calves on Farms, 1925 166 

10. Swine on Farms, 1925 172 

n. Average Value of Farms with Land, Buildings, Livestock 

and Equipment, 1925 180 

12. Value of Farm Real Estate Per Acre, 1925 181 

13. Farms Operated by Tenants and Croppers 188 

14. Farms Operated by Croppers, 1925 189 

15. Farms Operated by Tenants Other than Croppers, 1925 189 

16. Vegetables Grown for Home Use Only, Value, 1919 226 

17. Seven Vegetables Grown for Sale, Acreage, 1924 228 

18. Percentage of Improved Land 228 

19. Average Annual Precipitation 354 

20. Average Length of Growing Season 358 

21. Farms on Hard-Surfaced Roads, 1925 456 

22. Farms on Improved Dirt Roads, 1925 457 

23. Farms on Unimproved Dirt Roads, 1925 457 

24. Urban Population, 1920 458 

25. Farm Population, 1925 475 

26. Farm Population Per Farm, 1925 478 

27. Farm Population under 21 Years of Age, 1925 478 

28. Farm Population under 10 Years of Age, 1925 480 

29. Village Population, 1920 505 




1. The South and the Nation, 1920-1930 21 

2. Outline of Factors Used in the Classification of Soils 81 

3. Soil Provinces of the United States 83 

4. Classification of Soils in the United States 84 

5. Production and Consumption of Fertilizers in the South 97 

6. Statistics of Cotton Culture in Eight Soil Regions of the 

South, 1909 I0 o 

7. Production of the Turpentine Industry, 1910-1930 123 

8. Gum Turpentine Rosin Industry in the South 123 

9. Area of Woodland, Restocking, and Cut-Over Lands, 1920 124 

10. Classification of Southern Pine Lands, 1920 125 

11. Milk Processing Plants in the South 169 

12. Crop and Animal Ratios in the South 175 

13. Farm Areas in the South, 1925 182 

14. Farm Values in the South, 1925 183 

15. Farm Incomes in the South, 1924-28 184 

16. Farms in the South by Color and Tenure of Operators, 1930 191 

17. Record of a 160 Acre Cotton Farm in Texas, 1894-1909 195 

1 8. Farms Growing Specified Products in Ten Cotton States, 1920. . 197 

19. Economic and Social Status of Various Tenure Levels in a 
Tenancy Area 202 

20. Tobacco: Acreage, Production, Value, 1910-1929 214 

21. Rice: Acreage, Production, Value, 1924-1929 219 

22. Cane Sugar Production in Louisiana, 1911-1929 224 

23. Relation of Seasons to Soils and Trucking Areas 229 

24. Farm Value of South's Commercial Truck Crops, 1926-1929. . . 236 

25. The Southern Fishing Fringe 238 

26. South's Manufacturing Progress By Decades, 1880-1920 280 

27. Manufacturing in the South by States, 1927-1929 281 

28. Power Installed in the South to 1927 288 



29. Average Annual Wages in Cotton Textiles 294 

30. Spindles and Active Spindle Hours by Sections, 1921-1931 297 

31. Cotton Manufacturing in Southern States 298 

32. Classification of South's Textile Industry, 1929 301 

33. Southern Iron Output 307 

34. Southern Coal Resources and Production, 1900-1929 308 

35. Manufacture of Tobacco in the South, 1929 313 

36. Petroleum Production by States and Fields 344 

37. Petroleum Refining Industry of Southwest, 1929 346 

38. Death Rates in the South by States and Races, 1920-29 377 

39. Malaria in Mississippi, 1914-1930 398 

40. Deficiencies in Diet of 400 Georgia Farm Families 433 

41. Comparative Rank of Dietary Surveys 434 

42. The South's Status, 1930 442 

43. Railways and Waterways in the South, 1929 454 

44. Highway Mileage and Expenditures in South to 1929 459 

45. Motor Vehicles Registration and Gasoline Tax Revenues 

in the South to 1929 460 

46. South's Comparative Birth Rates by States and Races, 1920-1927 477 

47. Excess of Births Over Deaths in the South, by States and 

Races, 1925-1929 479 




HERBERT SPENCER in the only interview granted the newspapers 
on his one visit to America analyzed American culture from the 
viewpoint of a sociologist. "In the first place," he said in 1882, 
"the American people have come into possession of an un- 
paralleled fortune the mineral wealth and the vast tract of virgin 
land producing abundantly with small cost of culture. . . . Then 
they have profited by inheriting all the arts, appliances, and meth- 
ods developed by older societies, while leaving behind the obstruc- 
tions existing in them. . . . Once more, there is inventiveness which, 
stimulated by the need of economizing labor, has been so wisely 
fostered. . . . The progressive incorporation of vast bodies of immi- 
grants of various bloods has never occurred on such a scale before. 
. . . Then your immense plexus of railways and telegraphs tend to 
consolidate this vast aggregate of states in a way that no such ag- 
gregate has ever before been consolidated." 1 

In a series of thoughtful phrases Spencer suggested the factors 
of geography, material culture, technology, biological stocks, and 
communication that have served to give the United States the unity 
it possesses. In the adjustment of European culture to the Amer- 
ican environment, the people themselves, certainly in the South, were 
more of a unity than the physical conditions they were to meet. 
The "customs, laws, languages, institutions which they brought with 
them, as well as their inherited tendencies, beliefs and prejudices; 
their intelligence, skill, knowledge of business methods and indus- 
trial processes and inventions" 2 were rather uniformly those held 
by the English common people. They thus formed a kind of cul- 
ture complex. In their new American environment the people met 
two distinct sets of stimuli: the Indian culture and the physical 

1 Essays, Scientific, Political, and Speculative, III, 471-80. 

2 William A. Schaper, "Sectionalism and Representation in South Carolina," 
American Historical Association, Report for 1900, I, 246. 



conditions. The Indians were both an obstacle to occupation and 
an aid to adjustment to the wilderness. 3 The adoption by the set- 
tlers of the Indians' forest folkways, as Turner convincingly shows 
us, created the frontier. The Indian, then, in a large sense made 
for the cultural unity of early America; and for a long time the 
frontier, North and South, was essentially the same. 


In seeking to account for that diversity in our national culture 
which has made American history at once so interesting and so 
tragic, one is compelled to fall back on geographic factors. It will 
be wise, as H. H. Barrows holds, to view such a problem "from the 
standpoint of man's adjustment to the environment rather than from 
that of environmental influence." 4 Only in this way can one avoid 
"assigning to geographic factors a determinative influence they do 
not exert." In any study of the human geography of the region in 
America, the attempt should be made throughout to ascertain how 
European culture became, in seeking to conform to geographic con- 
ditions, American culture. Accordingly it will be useful to divide 
the geographic complex into its elements and to indicate some ways 
in which societies react to these elements. 

For any given area at least eleven elements may be found to make 
up the geographic background : (i) Position; (2) area; (3) climate; 
(4) relief; (5) soil; (6) minerals; (7) waters of the land, including 
underground waters; (8) oceans; (9) coast and coast lines; (10) 
native vegetation; (u) native animal life. 5 The importance of these 
elements may be accepted without question. Position exists in refer- 
ence to other regions; it determines the accessibility or isolation of 
cultural groups. Area sets limits to the quantity of population that 
may be supported and thus aids in determining national strength. 
The relief, valley, plateau, mountain range, or plain, affects climate 
by means of altitude and influences communication. Like position 
it may make for exclusion. "The nucleus of population has its basis 
in the most accessible portions of a given physiographic area. From 
there it spreads along the lines of least resistance to the surrounding 

3 Ibid., pp. 245-46. 

4 "Geography as Human Ecology," Annals of the Association of American 
Geographers, XIII, 3. 

5 Charles C. Colby, Source Boo{ for the Economic Geography of North America, 
p. xiv. 


hinterland." 6 Climate, itself, is composed of many factors: temper- 
ature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, and prevailing winds. To- 
gether with soils and minerals, climate furnishes the basis of the 
greater part of what we call natural resources. To these must be 
added those native avenues of transportation, the ocean and the 
waters of the land. Fronting on the ocean, the contour of coast 
lines, by affording or withholding harbor, influences the use that 
may be made of nature's waterways. 

Growing out of the inorganic environment are the biological 
factors: native vegetation and animal life. Surface features, chief 
mineral resources, major types of soil, mean annual temperature and 
the annual range of temperature, the length of the growing season, 
the mean annual rainfall and the seasonal distribution of rainfall 
furnish nature's conditions for vegetation. 7 Not only is the plant 
complex conditioned by these physical factors, but plants themselves 
exist in what may be called communities. As the ecologists have 
shown, in every area exists a delicate equilibrium of plant contend- 
ing with plant for a place in the sun and the soil. Animals subsist 
on plant life and on each other, so that we may think of man's 
organic milieu as an equilibrium of plants, animals, insects, bac- 
teria, and parasites, all in contact and all interacting through natural 
biological processes. In passing to the realm of the organic, man's 
milieu has become increasingly complex. 

The extent to which the principle of interaction in a complex 
unity ranges through the organic world is indicated in the geog- 
raphy of disease. Many human diseases are transmitted by microbes 
or bacteria which spend part of their period of growth incubating 
in an animal host. The range of this host is determined by climate, 
and the disease may accordingly become known as peculiar to, let 
us say, the torrid climate, although it would be perfectly possible 
for men to have the disease in other areas provided the carrier were 
present. The question of animal and vegetable life is thus so com- 
plicated that, as Marsh suggests, "we can never know how wide a 
circle of disturbance we produce in the harmonies of nature when 
we throw the smallest pebble into the ocean of organic being." 8 

"C. A. Dawson, "Population Areas and Physiographic Regions in Canada," 
American Journal of Sociology, XXXIII, 43. 

7 R. H. Whitbeck, "Fact and Fiction in Geography by Natural Regions," Journal 
of Geography, XXII, 86-94. 

8 Quoted from R. Mukerjee, Regional Sociology, p. 231. 


The change of any factor in a region, as variation in rainfall or the 
introduction of a new plant or insect, is sufficient to establish a new 
equilibrium. In so far as animals prey upon vegetation and upon 
each other they may be regarded as the superstructure of this com- 
plex, but when man arrives on the scene he becomes the new super- 

Man's so-called conquest of nature accordingly has consisted in 
disturbing nature's equilibrium of flora and fauna. From native 
plants growing in a region man has developed the few at the ex- 
pense of the many, outlawing them as weeds and attempting their 
extermination. He has artificially bred plants to points where na- 
ture could never have taken them and then he has introduced 
exotic vegetation. Cotton, corn, wheat, rye, oats, and fruits are 
pampered monstrosities created and kept alive by man. This alien 
complex he has maintained by force of plow, hoe, and fertilization 
against the encroaching wilderness and the weeds, which themselves 
have become domesticated outlaws. To the fauna offered by nature 
he has been no less arbitrary. Wild animals of the forest and field 
he has driven before him and exterminated. For the bison of the 
western plains he has substituted the cattle of Texas ranches. At so 
fast a pace has this new complex been substituted for an old one 
that in so new a country as America the ecologists find it well-nigh 
impossible to map the natural biotic zones. In no place, however, 
has man dominated the organic complex completely. One of the 
penalties of the artificial equilibrium is the introduction of fungi, 
parasites, and insect pests, before unknown, to prey upon man's 
pampered monstrosities. 

The foregoing discussion has served to suggest that the legitimate 
approach to human geography lies not in a detached study of the 
social significance of geographic elements but in an analysis of inter- 
connected wholes. In our modern workaday world the staple, 
artificially propagated and guarded from its rivals who would 
crowd it from the common table of light and soil, offers the key 
to the region. This complex unity of flora and fauna thus counts 
more in the world economy than native vegetation and animal life. 
These facts lead to a view of the region; and it is noteworthy that 
regionalism has been the revivifying influence in modern geographic 


L. G. W. Joerg has rightly termed the "recognition of regional 
geography as the ultimate goal and highest expression of geo- 
graphic research." 9 Carl O. Sauer has expressed the opinion that 
regional geography offers the most urgent field of inquiry. 10 Such 
a study is not ready to announce generalizations but must describe, 
interpret, and analyze regions. The region must be accepted as 
an environmental type in which what we have called the geo- 
graphic elements are combined in certain definite and constant 
relations. Even here we can distinguish between what may be 
roughly called the physical region and the region of the organic 
complex. The physiographic region is basically geological; in 
W. M. Davis' formula it is the product of structure, process, and 
stage; the organic is based on the uses to which plants and animals 
have put the stage of soil and climate furnished by nature. 11 

If each of the main geographic elements be used as criterion 
for plotting a region, it will be found that the regions so delimited 
vary greatly in size. Physiographic, thermal, rainfall, soil, and 
mineral regions do not necessarily coincide. 12 Of these the climatic 
region is the largest unit; the soil region the smallest; and the physio- 
graphic region occupies a position midway. 

Such a physiographic unit has been defined by Neven N. Fenne- 
man as "an area which is characterized throughout by similar or 
closely related surface features, and which is contrasted in these 
respects with neighboring areas." 13 Such an area would also pos- 
sess a uniform physiographic history. Although the evidence for 
such regions is more distinct and the barriers between are more 
sharply defined than in other types of regions, the factors are 
infinitely complex. Basing their work on the immense number of 
studies completed by the United States Geological Survey, it took 
the committee of experts headed by Fenneman four months to 
produce a map of the physiographic regions of the United States. 
Even here many of the boundaries must be left indeterminate for 
regions merge into each other without perceptible change. 

The physiographic area leads to the next stage, the natural life 

9 Annals of the Association of American Geographers, IV, 36. 

10 The Geography of the Ozar\ Highlands, p. vii. 

11 Physical Geography, passim. 

13 R. H. Whitbeck, op. cit., p. 87. 

u "Physiographic Boundaries within the United States," Annals of the Asso- 
ciation of American Geographers, IV, 86. 


area. The result of geological and climatic processes, embodied 
in the soil, plus climate and weather, considered as habitat, furnish 
the background of the ecological community. This biotic region 
may be defined as a climatic and physiographic province char- 
acterized by an assemblage of species differing from those found 
in adjacent areas. 14 The most complete survey of the natural 
vegetation areas yet made of the United States proceeds on this as- 
sumption. "The forms of vegetation here described are not merely 
aggregations of species but are biological communities characterized 
by certain similarity in their biological aspect, in their environment, 
in their past history, and in their ultimate development. The 
biological is thus made the basis of classification and the environ- 
ment is measured in terms of vegetation and not the vegetation 
in terms of temperature, moisture, evaporation, or any other factor. 15 
It will be remembered that Koppen's first classification of climate 
was in terms of vegetation. 

In any settled region the natural distribution of plants and 
animals has long since been disturbed, and any attempt to re- 
construct these natural life areas is likely to meet with failure. 
The one field in which natural plant areas can still be mapped 
is forestry. The Atlas of American Agriculture furnishes a brilliant 
example of this type of research in its reconstruction of the natural 
forests of the United States. 16 The United States is thus found 
to comprise roughly an eastern hardwood and pine forest province, 
a mid-western grass area, and a region of desert shrubs. 17 The 
equilibrium of these societies of grasses, trees, and desert shrubs 

14 L. R. Dice, "Biotic Areas and Ecological Habitats as Units for the Statement of 
Animal and Plant Distribution," Science, LV, 335-38. 

15 Atlas of American Agriculture, "Natural Vegetation," Pt. I, Sec. E, p. 3. 

16 Ibid., Map, pp. 3-4. 

17 The nine forest regions of the eastern United States beginning at the South are 
as follows: (i) Subtropical Forest: Mangrove; (2) Southeastern Pine Forest: Long- 
leaf, Loblolly, and Slash Pines; (3) River Bottom Forests: Cypress, Tupelo and Red 
Gum; (4) Southern Hardwood Forests: Chestnut, Chestnut Oak, and Yellow Pop- 
lar; (5) Southern Hardwood Forest: Oak and Hickory; (6) Southern Hardwood For- 
est, Oak and Pine; (7) Northwestern Hardwood, Birch, Beech, Maple, and Hem- 
lock; (8) Northeastern Pine Forest: Jack, Red, and White Pines; (9) Northern 
Coniferous Forest: Spruce, Fir. Three desert shrub plant areas arc given: (i) 
Southern Desert: Creosote Bush; (2) Salt Desert: Greasewood; (3) Northern Des- 
ert: Sagebrush. The grass regions comprise about seven divisions: (i) Prairie: Tall 
Grass; (2) Plains: Short Grass; (3) Desert Grassland: Mesquite; (4) Desert Savanna: 
Mesquite and Desert Grass; (5) Pacific Grassland: Bunch Grass; (6) Alpine Grass- 
land: Alpine Meadow; (7) Marsh: Marsh Grass. 


has been disturbed by the uses to which man has put the region. 
Only some ten per cent of the eastern timber is in virgin con- 
dition; and seventy per cent of the grass land east of the looth merid- 
ian has been planted to crops. 

The interrelation of the organic and inorganic may be sug- 
gested by noting the effect of temperature and rainfall on the dis- 
tribution of plants by areas. Distribution of plants and animals 
over the earth's surface according to Dr. C. Hart Merriam is gov- 
erned not so much by an average of annual temperature as by the 
temperature during the period of growth and reproductive activity 
of the plant. 18 The various events in the life of the plant as leafing, 
flowering, and maturing of fruit take place when the plant has been 
exposed to a definite quantity of solar heat for a brief period. 
Plants, then, are restricted in their northward distribution by the 
total amount of heat received during their period of growth and by 
the amount of cold they can endure in winter. In their southward 
distribution they are restricted by the mean temperature of a brief 
period covering the hottest part of the year. On the basis of thermal 
means worked out along this line Dr. Merriam has mapped three 
life zones for the United States : Boreal, austral, and tropical. 

"The position and density of forests," for example, are due to 
the peculiar distribution of rainfall in this country. The central 
portion of the continent, far from the moist ocean winds, find 
insufficient moisture to support a dense forest." 19 Roughly the 
United States may be divided into two rainfall areas: a moist east 
and an arid west which possesses a moist Pacific fringe. In map- 
ping such areas the average annual rainfall should not be con- 
sidered more important than the question of the distribution of 
precipitation throughout the year. Rain may fall at such a season 
as to be a detriment rather than a benefit to plant life. The United 
States has been divided into five general areas of precipitation de- 
pending on the type and source of rainfall: 20 

i. Pacific area with its source the Pacific Ocean has a long period ot 
precipitation during midwinter and an almost total absence during 
late summer. 
M "Laws of Temperature Control of the Geographic Distribution of Terrestrial 

Animals and Plants," National Geographic Magazine, VI, 229-38. 

19 "Natural Vegetation," Atlas of American Agriculture, p. 3. 

20 General A. W. Greeley, "Definition of Rainfall Types," National Geographic 
Magazine, V, 45-58. 


2. Mexico, an area of light rainfall, originating in the Gulf of Cali- 
fornia, has its heavier period during July, August, and September 
with its lowest in February, March, and April. 

3. Tennessee, Gulf states, the rainfall coming from the Gulf of Mexico, 
is heaviest during the last of winter and the first ot spring with light 
precipitation in midautumn. 

4. Missouri, Northern Mississippi Valley, find the source of precipita- 
tion in the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes and Hudson Bay; highest 
precipitation is in winter with major quantity of rain in late spring 
and early summer. 

5. Atlantic area is one of fairly heavy rainfall coming from the Atlantic 
Ocean with distribution fairly uniform throughout the whole year. 21 

"The notion of natural region," as Paul Vidal de la Blache 
writes, "is simply the expression of a fact brought more and more 
into evidence by the observations which have been carried on for 
a century: meteorological observations showing that the av- 
erages for temperature and rain hardly vary in a given region; 
botanical observations showing in the same climate the reproduc- 
tion of the same types of plants; geological observations proving 
that if there is great variety in the construction of the soil, all is 
not disorder, and that the very way in which the sediments have 
been deposited, and the way in which the movements of the earth's 
crust have taken place, implies a certain regularity of behavior." 22 


The value to social science of these physical regions lies in the 
human uses to which they are devoted. "Man living on earth lives 
in relation to a corn belt, a wheat region, a trade or manufacturing 
region; to semi-arid pasture, or to some other natural region. 
Hence classification of region by human use is scientific method 
for the study of geography." 23 What counts is obviously not the 
native societies of plants and animals existing atop the physical 
complex of soil and climate but the artificial equilibrium of flora 
and fauna introduced and maintained by man. The raison d'etre 
is economic; these plants and animals are ones which may be con- 

21 See also American Atlas of Agriculture, Pt. II, Sec. A, "Precipitation and 
Humidity," by J. B. Kincer, Map, pp. 6-7. 

22 Quoted by R. Mukerjee, Regional Sociology, p. 237. 

23 J. Russell Smith, Human Geography, II, v. 


sumed or given in exchange, but they also condition man's social 
and institutional interests. Le Play's famous formula is also re- 
gional : place conditions work, work conditions the family organiza- 
tion, and the family is the social unit which makes up society. 24 
This formula of place-work-folk has received its most brilliant 
American demonstration in Turner's account of the evolution of 
frontier society in accordance with the conditions of the wilderness. 
According to this conception, physical and climatic milieux re- 
maining constant, the regions change as the state of agriculture 
and of industry advance. Thus a frontier belt may become a hunting 
area, an Indian trading region, a ranching area, then a region of 
grain farming, and finally a dairying area. 

In the uses that man, in the effort to clothe, feed, house, and 
defend himself, makes of the map furnished by nature, Jean 
Brunhes finds the scope of human geography. 25 These activities 
become permanently recorded on the soil and comprise the cultural 
landscape. He finds six essential series of social phenomena corre- 
lated with geographic factors: (i) Human habitations: inhabited 
areas, character of houses, roads; (2) plant conquest: cultivated 
fields; (3) animal conquest: domestication and breeding of animals; 
(4) exploitation of minerals; (5) devastation in plant life; (6) dev- 
astation in animal life. 

To Brunhes many of the most important phases of 
society lie beyond the reach of geography to touch or in- 
fluence. The forms of the family, political organization, 
social organization, the character of religion, of laws and literature 
exhibit little or no relation to geographic phenomena. In the 
phrase of C. Vallaux which he has quoted with approval: "The 
influence of geographic factors is negative, but not positive; they 
often may hinder a phenomenon, but they do not determine what 
it will be." 26 Man has not evolved in a vacuum, and it is obvious 
to point out in reply to Vallaux that when nature prevents she 
also determines. "Human geography," says Georges Gariel, and 
he is right, "is destined to review all the sociological theories that 
speculate about some sort of abstract man." 27 

24 See Pitirim Sorokin, Contemporary Sociological Theories, pp. 66-73. 
'^ Human Geography, pp. 36-41, 48-52. 
26 C. Vallaux, Le sol et I'etat, p. 106. 
" 7 Quoted by Mukerjee, op. cit., p. 132. 


It is with the human uses of the region in mind that Dr. O. E. * 
Baker has mapped the agricultural areas of the United States. 28 
Five plants, corn, wheat, cotton, oats, and hay occupy more than 
eighty-seven per cent of the total crop area of the country. 29 In 
combination with livestock they make up the various types of 
farming. Dependent upon moisture conditions, length of the grow- 
ing season, contour of the land, and physical, chemical, and bacterial 
conditions of the soil, they furnish the agricultural regions of the 
United States. 30 In regard to climate the United States may be 
divided roughly into four overlapping areas: a cold northern, a 
warm southern, a moist eastern, and a dry western region. 31 The 
soils fall into three divisions: The East and South, largely light- 
colored forest lands; the central plains, dark-soiled grasslands; and 
the West, desert shrub and bush lands. 32 Using as his index the 
proportion of domesticated plants and animals used in each crop 
system, Dr. Baker lists the following agricultural regions of the 
eastern United States: (i) Subtropical Crops Belt; (2) Cotton Belt; 
(3) Middle Atlantic Trucking Region; (4) Corn and Winter 
Wheat Belt; (5) Corn Belt; (6) Hay and Dairying Belt; (7) Spring 
Wheat Area. The western United States he divides according to 
crops produced into the following areas: (8) Grazing and Irrigated 
Crop Region; (9) Columbia Plateau Region; (10) Pacific Subtropic 
Crops Region; (n) North Pacific Hay, Pasture, and Forest Re- 
gion. 33 We have proceeded thus by inevitable stages from the 
region as laid down by geology to the region as transformed by 
the hand of man. Such human use areas are physiographic; they 
are also economic. Economic factors, such as values per unit of 
weight and distances to markets, may determine the extent and 
distribution of plant production. 34 The building of a railroad may 
thus transform the uses to which man puts a region. 

The study of the cultural landscape shows man remaking the 
regional map and plots the distribution of his artifacts in space. 

28 U. S. D. A. Yearboo{, 1921, Fig. 2, p. 416. 

29 W. J. Spillman, "Distribution of Types of Farming in the United States," 
Farmer's Bulletin 1289, P- 3- 

80 Oliver E. Baker, "Agricultural Regions of North America, Part I," Economic 
Geography (Oct. 1926), p. 460. 

81 Ibid., p. 467. 

82 Ibid., p. 466. 

83 U. S. D. A. Yearbook *9 2 *> Fig- 2, p. 416. 

84 W. J. Spillman, off. cit., p. 3. 


rt . 

if 111; 

2 o.2-o o.ii 



No less challenging is the study of the comparative cultural rou- 
tines of social groups as conditioned by different agricultural re- 
gions. Here the seasonal demands of economic plants and an- 
imals set limits to the seasonal round of days and works and 
plot the distribution of man's activities in time. By no one can 
Le Play's formula of place, work, and folk be better tested than 
by one who should set himself to keep comparative seasonal graphs 
of the cultural activities of the family of a wheat farmer, a cotton 
grower, a truck gardener, a dairyman, and a tobacco farmer as 
they follow their plants and animals around nature's cycle of the 
season. That social factors beyond the obvious ones of seasonal 
diet and dress, family work in the fields, and recreation shape them- 
selves in such a cycle is indicated by H. C. Brearley's findings that 
high homicide rates in South Carolina fell within the periods 
of slack work in cotton farming, August and December. 35 Thus 
occurs "the development of the cultural out of the natural land- 
scape" and the region becomes the culture area characterized not 
only by common physical traits but by common culture traits. The 
region beginning as man's stage becomes in R. Mukerjee's phrase 
"his handiwork and his heritage." "The region thus conceived, 
registers the gain of trial and error for ages, and gives man handy 
tools and weapons, folkways or customs which make life easier 
and smoother for him." 36 

Again the United States can offer examples, roughly drawn, of 
culture areas based on regional facts. The New England states, 
superimposed on a fishing-small grain culture, developed with 
labor of an independent, individualistic type' an urban-industrial 
culture manned by an immigrant proletariat. The South from a 
tobacco-indigo-rice culture made the transition first to a cotton- 
slave culture, then to a cotton-tenant culture, and is now in re- 
stricted areas in the first steps of industrial culture. The Mid-West 
made the transition from the cattle culture of the plains to grain 
culture ending in the development of the Corn and Wheat Belts. 
The Pacific has also made a transition from timber to grain-fruit 
culture. Such a view has recently been given popular currency 
by a philosophic if superficial foreign observer. "America is at 
bottom a new land of budding localisms, very much as Europe 

8 "Homicides in South Carolina: A Regional Study," Social Forces, VIII, 218. 
88 R. Mukerjee, Regional Sociology, p. 232. 


was at the end of the migrations o the peoples," thinks Hermann 
Keyserling. 37 To him "America seems to be subdivided into large 
provinces of a comparatively unified character, provinces out of 
which there would undoubtedly have grown in earlier days and 
under different conditions separated cultures." 38 This is fortunate 
for "localism alone can produce in America a thoroughly authentic 
type of man, and this type alone can be the germ cell of an au- 
thentic American nation." 39 Keyserling cites examples of localisms 
producing authentic cultures. "It seems a providential thing that 
Minnesota has been colonized to such a large extent by Swedes, 
for the landscape is essentially Swedish." The atmosphere of 
Minneapolis he finds "Swedish at bottom and yet fundamentally 
American." "The only really cultural atmosphere one finds today 
in America is that of Virginia." "I should not greatly wonder," 
he adds, "if, after a few centuries Texas did not develop a very de- 
lightful original culture." 

Variations in the cultural landscape, different customs for 
different regions, the cultural routine of man's days and works, 
all these offer materials for literary art. An adequate regionalism 
in literature has proved heir to the local color of the 1890*5. The 
corn and wheat belts at the hands of Hamlin Garland, Willa 
Gather, Martha Ostenso, and O. E. Rolvaag have been presented in 
regional portraiture. Writers like Edgar Lee Master, Zona Gale, 
and Sinclair Lewis have risen to portray caustically the life of the 
trading center and the metropolis grown out of the hinterland of 

The American South at last has promised a literature which 
shall be regional but not provincial. That the new regionalism 
evident in the works of Ellen Glasgow, Du Bose Heyward, Julia 
Peterkin, E. C. L. Adams, Howard W. Odum, T. S. Stribling, and 
Rose Wilder Lane is not entirely dependent upon a newer objective 
attitude toward the Negro can be shown by an appeal to Barren 
Ground, Teef tallow, and what is possibly the masterpiece of re- 
gional portraiture, Elizabeth Madox Roberts' The Time of Man. 
Out of the promise of Dorothy Scarborough's The Land of Cotton, 
Jack Bethea's Cotton, and Herbert Kr oil's Cabin in the Cotton, na- 

87 "Genius Loci," Atlantic Monthly (Sept. 1929), p. 311. 
m lHd.,p. 303. 
"Ibid., p. 302. 


tional literature may expect in some near future to be enriched 
by an epic of cotton comparable to the trilogy planned for wheat by 
Frank Norris. Nor should the literature of the southern mountains 
be; overlooked. The realistic literature of folk close to the soil is 
now ripe for sociological analysis in terms of regional culture traits, 
social attitudes, and social values. 

When it comes to the geography of politics more than one 
thinker has followed the lead of N. S. B. Gras in seeing a rise of 
regionalism at the expense of nationalism. Not that the old political 
forms will disappear; they will simply be forced to accommodate 
themselves to the rising demands of regions. The foundation of 
regionalism offered by the factors of physiography and natural 
resources are being tremendously strengthened by modern business. 
It may be safely said that economic exploitation of nature's treas- 
ures is at last to force regional policies upon the heedless state. 
Scattered towns with their small hinterlands have coalesced into 
larger areas each finding its nucleus in a great metropolis. "Metro- 
politan regionalism," writes N. S. B. Gras who has best investigated 
this field, "is the most likely to challenge the state in a way to be 
heard from because it represents rich, well-organized and somewhat 
self-sufficing communities." 40 America has ten or twelve great 
metropolitan regions either developed or developing. In the East, 
Boston, New York, and Philadelphia; in the West, Chicago, St. 
Louis, Twin Cities, and Kansas City; on the Pacific, Seattle, 
San Francisco, and Los Angeles. In the South, it is Gras' 
opinion that New Orleans has lost, that Cincinnati and Baltimore 
on the border have had indifferent success, and that, due to rapid 
industrial development, Atlanta is likely to become the center of 
the first metropolitan region in the South. 41 

The Federal Reserve Areas in the United States are traces made 
on the financial map by metropolitan regionalism. In the alloca- 
tion of the water from Boulder Dam we find another regional 
complex that transcends state lines. The division of the United 
States in corps areas may be taken as delimiting provinces suitable 
for military defense. Reclamation and rivers and harbors projects 
are examples of regionalism in both the geographic and political 
sphere. There are two great economic complexes that may be ex- 

"Regionalism and Nationalism," Foreign Affairs, VII, 459. 
"Ibid., p. 461. 


pected to force regionalism on the attention of the state. The 
first of these is the railroads, and the task is one of consolidation, 
elimination, and unification of systems until each natural crop and 
natural resource province shall be efficiently interconnected with 
metropolitan centers. The second is the pressing problem of electric 
power. Hydro-electric development based on the natural distribu- 
tion of flowing rivers and water power demands coordination of 
large areas. In the expressive phrase of Robert W. Bruere, Giant 
Power is a Region Builder. On the basis of city planning and re- 
gional surveys of the hinterlands Patrick Geddes and Victor Bran- 
ford have erected plans for the development of natural areas that 
are nothing short of social reconstruction. 

The concept of region is giving a new direction to research. 
Practically every state has a geological survey which issues reports 
couched in the terms of the hardrock geologists. These reports, 
of interest mainly to mineralogists, make little use of the regional 
concept and furnish no data of use to either business men or social 
scientists. Kentucky, a state of great physical contrasts, clearly 
divided into natural regions, has, under the direction of Dr. W. R. 
Jillson, published the first complete series of regional geographic 
studies made for any state in our country. In the place of offering 
compendiums of facts the study attempts to express the individ- 
uality of the region as the site of a particular group with a particu- 
lar culture. Chapters are found on rural culture patterns and 
the cultural landscape of towns. These studies while often par- 
taking more of the physical than of the human and cultural factors 
have been said to rank with some of the best work done in Europe. 42 

Michigan has under way a Land-Economic Survey in coopera- 
tion with the United States Bureau of Soils, the Lake-States Forest 
Experiment Station, and the Michigan Department of Agriculture. 
"The outstanding difference between this undertaking and any 
other that approximates it," writes P. S. Lovejoy, "is in the effort 
to determine all the factors that will make for the intelligent use 
of land, to consider all the variables and to carry on the work 

42 Kentucky is divided into six clearly defined natural areas on which the fol- 
lowing regional monographs have been issued: D. H. Davis, The Jackson Purchase, 
1923; The Mountains, 1924; W. G. Burroughs, The Coal Fields, 1927, 
The Knobs, 1926; D. H. Davis, The Blue Grass, 1927; C. O. Sauer, The Penny- 
royal, 1927. These monographs are called reconnaissance studies of the distribution 
and activities of men in particular regions. 


with no prejudice for or against the possibly competing utilizations. 
Topography, types of growth, soils and uses of land are covered in 
field surveys. Intent in land ownership, assessed valuations, areas 
of tax delinquency, trade areas, and production areas are all to be 
mapped and so intensive is the survey that no variations of more 
than ten acres can escape record." 43 While primarily an economic 
survey for land utilization the analysis and interpretation by nat- 
ural areas will have wide bearing on the human ecology of the 

The survey of St. Helena Island, South Carolina, shows the 
suitability of a small natural area, homogeneous in its physical and 
ethnic features, to interpretation as a cultural unit. 44 The Depart- 
ment of Commerce has divided the United States into nine com- 
mercial regions for the purpose of study and in 1927 published 
its first survey, that of the Southeast. F. Stuart Chapin outlined 
before the American Sociological Society at its 1927 meeting plans 
of the University of Minnesota for a regional survey of the spring 
wheat belt which is to extend over two decades. The Institute for 
Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina seeks 
to give to all its southern studies a definite regional slant based on 
background studies of rural areas. The Social Science Research 
Council has indorsed regional research as one of the major meth- 
ods of promotion for the development of methods, personnel, new 
agencies of research, the securing of financial resources, the dis- 
covery of new research projects, and the collection of storehouses 
of regional information. One of the purposes of the Council is 
to bring together for conference regional groups to consider the 
problems of their areas. Two such areas have been designated: 
the Pacific Coast, composed of a small number of units, and the 
South, consisting of a large number of units. With cooperative 
effort between the students of physical backgrounds and the stu- 
dents of culture the new direction given research may in time 
be expected to produce results equal to the best work of the French 

School." ...;.;>* V t, * 

"Harold Titus, "Michigan Takes Stock," The New Republic, August 28, 1929, 
pp. 39-4I- 

44 T. J. Woofter, Jr., Blac\ Yeomanry. 

45 This chapter does not comprehend the whole concept of the sociological region 
as much as it points out the social and demographic interrelations of the geographic 
region. There is an increasingly large bibliography on special aspects of regionalism, 


The attempt to apply the method of regional interpretation 
to that historical entity known as the American South bristles 
with difficulty. The section has passed from frontier to plantation 
to a limited industrialism in the midst of a great cotton economy. 
Underneath the political and cultural unity superimposed on the 
South by its history will be found the texture of various physio- 
graphic regions. To define the limits and the characteristics of 
these physical areas and to point out their natural relations is our 
first task. 

such as economic, industrial, regional planning, folk and regional society, as well as 
other sociological aspects. For example, see an unpublished bibliography being 
prepared for the Southern Regional Study; also chapters I, IV, V, and XIII of 
Franklin H. Giddings' new volume, Civilization and Society, edited and arranged by 
Howard W. Odum. Other titles are listed in: Howard W. Odum, "Folk and 
Regional Conflict as a Field of Sociological Study," Publication of the American 
Sociological Society, XXV, 1-17; "Notes on the Study of Regional and Folk Society," 
Social Forces, X, 164-175. 




THE THIRTEEN STATES called the South stretch from Virginia and 
Kentucky down the Atlantic to the Gulf, across the Mississippi 
to Texas and Oklahoma. 1 They cover an area of 863,250 square 
miles with a population in 1930 of 33,744,296 souls. With 28.5 
per cent of the nation's area and 27.4 per cent of its population, 
the section's rate of population increase from 1920 to 1930 was just 
a trifle below the nation's. It has 32.4 per cent of its people living 
in towns and cities compared to 56.2 per cent for the nation. While 
its density of population falls but little below that of the nation, 
it is much below the density of the country east of the Mississippi. 
The thinly settled great plains bring down the nation's average. 
In wealth as estimated for 1928 by the National Industrial Con- 
ference Board, the South ranks $1,736 per capita compared to 
$3,000 for the nation. The South's percentage of Negro population 
in 1930 was 26.2; the nation's, 9.7; the South's percentage of total 
illiteracy was 9; the nation's, 4.3. 

Practically every cultural and demographic characteristic for 
which statistical indices can be obtained serves to set off the South. 
Observers, travelers, and students have long been impressed by the 
individuality of the section. Not only to the popular mind does 
the South appear as a distinctive region, but to as notable a 
geographer as Carl O. Sauer "the South is a major cultural divi- 
sion of the United States, perhaps its most strikingly outstanding 
cultural unit." Common traditions, a similar ancestry, common 
economic interests, and similar climate help to account for its unity. 

1 The reasons for this selection, which no doubt appear somewhat arbitrary at 
the outset, will be presented in the course of the volume. In the Southern Regional 
Study, now being projected under the auspices of the Southern Regional Committee 
of the Social Science Research Council, the Southern Region is divided into two main 
divisions, the Southeast, comprising eleven of the states above mentioned, and the 
Southwest, comprising Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona. 











c d-"3 

O ^ 



C ' 


Per Cent 

Per Cent 

e & 

a u" 




u % 





i. " 








































North Carolina. . . . 


























South Carolina .... 





















































































































The South 













The United States. 












S3 ,000 

The South's 













"South of the Ohio a sense of continuity with the past persists because 
change has been slow and the tempo of life has not been much ac- 
celerated nor its measure syncopated." 2 Lewis F. Carr may be 
taken as representative of those who feel the South is almost a dif- 
ferent country : 

Its ways are different, its conditions are different, its point of view is 
different. It has a character and personality all its own. The thoughts 
that we think are not the South's thoughts, and the mental habits that 
are natural to us must be dropped and stowed away for a while when 
we consider the South. Conditions that to our mind would indicate 
one type of development will not do so at all in a country that has a 
different racial condition, a different tradition, and measure of value. 
The South started from its own premise; it moved under peculiar con- 
ditions; it has arrived at totally different conclusions. 3 

The South, however, can be different without being a unit. 
Geography by the very nature of the science is disposed to be 
equally impatient of two dogmas that have arisen concerning the 

8 Carl O. Sauer, Geography of the Pennyroyal, pp. 5, 9-10. 
8 America Challenged, p. 165. 


South. The implications of that ritualistic phrase, the "Solid South," 
can best be matched by its untenable counterpart, "No North, no 
South." History, not geography, made the solid South, and to the 
extent that the area has forgotten its history and allowed the geog- 
raphy of region and resource to assert itself, to that extent the sec- 
tion has fashioned its cultural landscape along many and varied 
lines. As Holland Thompson pointed out, not even the historic 
ante-bellum South can be treated as a cultural unity: 

There was a South of the plantation, and of the upland farm; of the 
Coastal Plains and of the mountains; the South with lands almost 
incredibly fertile and the barren South where living was hard; the 
civilized South, and nearby the South, ignorant and rude; the austere 
Calvinist South, and the South of romance; the haughty aristocratic 
South and the democratic South. 4 

In a common touching devotion to the moribund democratic party 
and a certain attitude of condescension toward the Negro the 
South has been one. The South, unlike the Middle West, is 
not a single physical region but many. 

An examination will serve to convince one that the section holds 
within its bounds many physiographic areas and many human 
use regions. As a matter of fact, the South possesses approximately 
all the characteristic physical areas of the United States. If it 
cannot approach the Rockies for mountain ranges, it possesses its 
share of mountain zone in the southern Appalachians. Of the 
original eastern forest the South owns its due proportion of heavily 
timbered areas. In swamp and overflow areas the region is pos- 
sibly most unfortunate, possessing in Florida, the Mississippi, and 
Coastal swamps, much the major portion of undrained land in 
America. Of the unforested Central Prairies and the western semi- 
arid plains the South possesses the broad strips that dip into Texas 
and Oklahoma. Diversity of contour, moreover, is a factor making 
for diversity of culture. Russia, says Miss Newbigin, illustrates 
the "significance of the natural region negatively by showing how 
slow and difficult is the rise of a stable community where structure 
and relief are markedly uniform over wide areas, so that a human 
region has to be created where a natural region in the usual sense 

1 "The Coming of Industry to the South," The Annals of the American Academy 
of Political and Social Science, 153, p. n. 


scarcely exists." 5 Structure and relief thus form the basis for di- 
vision into natural regions. The American South possesses enough 
diversity in the build of the land to justify its treatment as a com- 
plex of interrelated subregions. Accordingly, the first purpose of 
this chapter will be to trace out the physiographic foundations 
underlying the human use regions into which the area may be 


Following the formula set forth by W. M. Davis, geologists have 
come to see the physiographic region as the result of three geo- 
logical factors, the structure, the geological process operating, and 
the stage at which the process has arrived. Weathering, erosion, 
and the transporting of soils with resulting physical and chemical 
changes go to make up the geological process. Given the same 
type of structure subject to the same type of climate, weathering 
would in an infinity of time reduce the rocks to the same type of 
soils. Thus, theoretically, physiographic regions tend to become 
soil regions. That they do not is due, among other things, to the 
stage at which the geological process has arrived. 

In the South are found at least seven of America's physiographic 
regions: the Atlantic Tidewater, Subtropic Gulf Coast; the Coastal 
Plain, the Piedmont, the Appalachian Highlands, the Mississippi 
Flood Plain, and the Ozark-Ouachita Highlands. Within these 
main divisions are many subdivisions of soil and topography. With 
each of these areas are associated certain groups of economic plants 
and animals, certain industries, certain modes of living, certain 
psycho-social types of people. Withal the likenesses will often be 
found greater than the differences, and those who attempt to force 
regionalism to fit any scheme of geographic determinism are rid- 
ing to a fall. In many instances regional diversity has been 
smoothed out by cultural diffusion. We can do no better in 
presenting these areas as seen by the physiographer than to arrange 
them in what we shall call the cultural series of the regional profile. 


Stretching from Cape Cod in the north to Mexico in the south, 
the Coastal Plain of the eastern United States varies in width 
from less than a mile to over 500 miles. This lowland has de- 

B Marion Newbigin, Regional Geography of the World, p. xviii. 


veloped from a "mass of soft sands, silts and clays disposed in 
strata that dip gently seaward." 6 The Coastal Plain continues 
under the sea 100 to 200 miles from the shore where it ends in a 
steep scarp, "the transition from the outer edge of the shallow 
continental shelf to the abysmal depths of the main ocean floor." 7 
The true continental margin is as high as a mountain range and, 
if sea level were lowered to its foot, would be a region of ice and 
snow. It is not surprising then that, as Bowman says, the present 
position of the shore line upon this plain is purely accidental. That 
it is changing at a fairly rapid rate is evident to students of geology. 
In its stretch around the eastern coast the Coastal Plain is bro- 
ken by two variations, the Florida Peninsula and the lower alluvial 
valley of the Mississippi, both in the South. In the southern area 
Isaiah Bowman has marked out five subdivisions of the Coastal 
Plain. 8 From the Potomac River to the Neuse long arms of sea- 
drowned rivers reach as estuaries inward past terraced plains of 
loam. Broad sounds with long slender reefs fringe this coast. 
The Carolina-Georgia lowlands from the Neuse to the Su- 
wanee show the same sloping plain, here covered with great 
stretches of pine-grown sands ending in swampy margins and 
fringed by sea islands and coastal reefs. Extending from the 
Suwanee River to the eastern bluffs of the Mississippi River is 
the most irregular area of the Coastal Plain. Its inner border has 
been dissected to form an interior lowland. On the seaward bor- 
der are found characteristic broad lagoons, low coastal swamps, 
and level, wide-spreading savannas. On the coast line one finds 
long narrow keys, many of which are submerged and constitute 
shoals. The next area, bounded on the east by a continuous line 
of bluffs and on the west by the conspicuous Crowley's Ridge, is 
not a coastal plain but a combined delta and flood plain under the 
dominance of the Mississippi River. Lying practically at base level, 
from 30 to 60 miles wide and extending 600 miles, the Alluvial 
Valley is one of the most extensive low areas in the United States. 

8 Isaiah Bowman, Forest Physiography, p. 498. This work, is the only regional 
physiography of the United States yet, published. Within its pages lie digested 
countless obscure geological monographs, and its felicitous phrasing in description 
can best be appreciated by the physiographer. The indebtedness of the present 
chapter to this work is heavy. 

7 Ibid., p. 500. 

*lbid., pp. 501-2. 


111 drained, occupied by a great meandering river, it displays in the 
form of bayous, lakes, cut-ofTs, meanders, and abandoned chan- 
nels, a great maze of water spread upon a plain almost without 
a perceptible slope. 

The fifth area, the Gulf Plain of Louisiana and Texas, ex- 
tends from Atchafalaya River to the Rio Grande. Its coast line 
shows a sea advancing on a low shore with long sand reefs en- 
closing lagoons, drowned river courses, estuaries, and sea cliffs. 
Next occur broad savannas, clothed with coarse grass, scrub pine 
and palmetto alternating with swamps. Above follows a western 
sandy area and an eastern clayey region. 9 The Gulf Plain grad- 
ually rises in successive benches from the Gulf toward the interior. 
Much of the area was formed below the waters of the Gulf from 
the detritus worn from the land and deposited on the sea floor. 10 

The soils of the Gulf area are more fertile than those along the 
Atlantic Coast. The crystalline rocks of the Appalachian system 
have in the process of weathering and decay furnished the debris 
laid in place by stream action. Consequently the soils are siliceous, 
while the silt from the interior of the continent, derived from 
rocks of limey or clayey nature, are much richer. Shaler estimated 
that perhaps 50,000 square miles of soil have been brought into 
position by river currents. Much of this area is river bottoms 
and deltas of the highest fertility, hindered from the most efficient 
cultivation only by imperfect drainage. 11 


Florida is not a coral reef but possesses an interior whose basis 
is a limestone of marine origin. This flat, low-lying sandy table ex- 
tends south by east into the Atlantic Ocean. "A depression of 
50 feet would cover all of southern Florida except the tops of sand 
hills and ridges while an elevation of 50 feet would extend the 
shore line westward 20 miles from Cape Romano and make dry 
land of Biscayne Bay and the Bay of Florida." 12 Less than a tenth 
of the Florida shelf lies above the ocean. From the viewpoint 
of geological structure Florida "is an elevated crust block modified 
by a number of minor folds." 13 On the basis of both topography 

9 Ibid., pp. 529-30. 

10 N. S. Shaler, The United States of America, I, 89. 
^Ibid., I, 91-93. 

12 Bowman, op. cit., p. 543. u Ibid., p. 545. 


and vegetation the region may be divided into pineland and swamp. 
The 30,000 square miles of pine land are set off by relief into dunes, 
rolling sand plains, flat land, and rock ridges. The dunes lie near 
the coast in ridges flanked by rolling sand plains. Between these 
and the Everglades lie the imperfectly drained pine flat lands. 
That great saw-grass morass, the Everglades, may be thought of 
as a huge series of shallow, connected sinks without either soil 
or surface drainage. In this region of "grassy water a difference 
of two feet in topography may mean the difference between a 
shallow lake and dry land for hundreds of square miles." 14 The 
poor drainage of interior Florida is due to the youthfulness of its 
surface with lack of time for a system of drainage to become or- 
ganized, the absence of relief or a dominating slope, and the dis- 
solving effect of ground water on limestone in opening passages for 
underground drainage without regard to surface features. 15 


The boundary between the Coastal Plain and the Piedmont 
Plateau has been called the Fall Line. According to Bowman 
the doubtful width of this dividing line makes the term "fall belt" 
more appropriate. The division, however, is clearly marked, and 
the "two provinces present some of the most strongly marked con- 
trasts in the United States. The boundary is never a cliff and seldom 
ever a well-defined scarp, and the lowland hills are as rugged and 
more than half as high as the Piedmont hills, but the distinction 
stands out chiefly because of differences in soil." 16 In the Piedmont 
all the details, topography, soils, and water courses reflect the char- 
acter of the rock. "In coastal regions these features represent the 
work of streams born upon plains newly uplifted from the sea or 
reflect the general altitude of the lowland rather than its rock char- 
acter. In the Piedmont Plateau the rocks are crystalline, the soils 
residual, the stream courses flow in narrow gorges with cataracts 
and rapids while in the Coastal Plain the soils are derived from 
clay, sand, and gravel deposits and the streams flow in shallow 
valleys and discharge into broad tidal estuaries or coastal swamps." 17 
The Piedmont province were it otherwise situated would possibly 
never have been called a plateau; it is a plateau only by reference 
to the low flat Coastal Plain. It swings southwestward from 

"Ibid., pp. 548-49. "Ibid., p. 449- 

"Und., p. 551. "Ibid., p. 499. 


northern New Jersey to Central Alabama where it finally passes 
beneath the sediment of the Coastal Plain. It varies in width 
from 50 miles in the northern sector to its maximum, 125 miles 
in North Carolina. Beginning at an altitude of 1,000 to 1,200 feet 
on the west it inclines seaward evenly at the rate of 20 feet per 
mile until it reaches 400 to 500 feet altitude on the east. It ap- 
pears to the eye "not as a smooth plain but as a broadly undulating 
surface extending in every direction as far as the eye can reach: 
upon this general surface are low knobs and ridges rising above the 
general level of the plateau, while below the general level are nu- 
merous rather than deep and narrow streams, valleys, and chan- 
nels." 18 


Between the Mississippi Valley and the Piedmont Plateau lie 
three physiographic provinces of comparatively high altitude the 
Appalachian Plateau, the parallel ridges of the Great Appalachian 
Valley, and the narrow Appalachian Mountains. 19 In the Appa- 
lachian Plateau the sandy soils lifted to a higher altitude have been 
deeply dissected. The Great Valley is the trough of a region tel- 
escoped. In the Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont Plateau 
the basis of crystalline rock, schists, gneisses, and granites are deeply 
decayed and manteled with residual soil. This great mountain 
system reaches from the St. Lawrence Valley to central Alabama. 
It is composed of the four central members of a series of six. The 
northern and southern belts of the Appalachians differ in rock 
type the southern is crystalline and the northern chiefly sedi- 
mentary. The southern beds of insoluble rock material have re- 
sisted erosion, and their outcrops are marked by the highest ridges 
and mountain ranges of the series. The Blue Ridge extending 
northward as far as Pennsylvania forms the eastern escarpment 
to the southern Appalachians. At the north it is a true ridge; 
at the south it is a great scarp descending sharply to the Piedmont. 
This escarpment is not a sharp break but a labyrinth of coves, hills, 
and spurs, representing the work of erosion on a mass of highly 
irregular rock. 20 Within the Unakas, Great Smokey, and Blue 
Ridge on the east and the edge of the Appalachian Plateau on the 
west, lies the great Appalachian Valley not a single river valley 

*lbid., p. 624. 

"Ibid., pp. 586-89. "Ibid., p. 620. 


but a series of many. The Coosa, Tennessee, Shenandoah, Cumber- 
land, Middle Hudson, and Champlain valleys are in this series. 
The alternate ridges, some as long as 300 miles, run parallel. They 
have resulted from a folding of the region in which plane sur- 
faces extending 153 and 81 miles have been telescoped to 65 and 
55 miles. 21 

From the standpoint of human geography the most important 
features of this whole region are its basins, gorges, and coves. They 
range in size from tiny flat areas along streams to large plains 
such as the Asheville Basin. They occur at headwaters of streams, 
at their junctions where soil has been washed into the hollows, 
and in spots where soft underlying rock, has decayed. It is these 
areas that make the region, for these comparatively small and scat- 
tered coves and valleys contain the population. Accordingly, only 
one fourth of the land is under cultivation. It is, however, unsafe 
under the conditions of soil texture, rainfall, and slope to cultivate 
as much as 18 per cent of the surface of this area. 


Across the Mississippi lies one other highland area composed 
of the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains divided by the Valley of the 
Arkansas River. Bowman describes the "Ozarks as "a broad, 
relatively flat topped dome somewhat extensively dissected and con- 
sisting of three subdivisions, the Salem Platform, the Springfield 
structural Plain, and the Boston Mountains." 22 The region ex- 
tends from near Jefferson City and St. Louis in the north to the 
Arkansas River in the south, from the Nesbo in the west to the 
Black River on the east. While the rest of the region was re- 
duced by erosion, the sandstone beds possessing a differential 
uplift left the Boston Mountains standing out as a bold escarpment. 
The soils of the highlands are covered with flinty, angular scraps 
of chert left from the weathering of the overlying limestone. The 
finer soil particles thus produced have seeped down by action of 
water to the base of the weathered zone. Much of the region is 
thus unfitted for the average type of agriculture but produces a 
luxuriant forest. Trees standing in the midst of stony steep areas 
send their roots down to the finer soils. Thus the area is available 
for a high type of tree culture with forests, fine orchards, and nut- 
bearing trees. 

R lbid., p. 672. *lbid.. p. 452. 


The valley of the Arkansas River stands at a level of about 
800 feet above the sea. The overlapping folds of rock strata have 
been levelled off by stream erosion so that they form a comparatively 
level plain, bounded near the Arkansas by characteristic river bot- 
toms. The plain ascends by parallel small ridges to altitudes vary- 
ing from 1700 to 2500 feet. Thus within a very small area agricul- 
ture runs the gamut from river bottom to hill lands. 23 

The Ouachita Mountains, a range 200 miles long, south of the 
Arkansas Valley, extend from Little Rock to Oklahoma. They 
nowhere rise more than a few thousand feet, and exhibit a regular 
development of ridges and valleys except for faults along their 
borders. In soils and general adaptability to human uses they may 
be classed as lesser Ozarks. 


This hasty survey of physiographic regions leaves us with two 
essential problems. The first has to do with the relation of the 
physical region to the types of civilization; the second deals with 
the natural sequence of contiguous and related areas. We shall be 
faced with the first problem throughout this volume. The under- 
lying theory of human geography as bearing on this field has been 
well put by Carl O. Sauer. 

The field of regional geography is not concerned with an encyclopaedic 
compendium of facts that are bound together simply by their occurrence 
in a particular region. . . . The dominant theme ... is the expression 
of the individuality of the region as the site of a particular group of 
people and their work. To begin with there is the physical fact of 
the area characterized by a distinctive location, by a climate, and by a 
particular body of land. . . . This physical site has been occupied by a 
group of people or by successive groups. The occupation has led to a 
series of characteristic contacts with the area as cultural forms. Man's 
areal activities are expressed by the kind and distribution of his homes, 
storerooms, workshops, highways, fields, and other marks of his tenure. 24 

Thus the student arrives at the cultural landscape, leaving him the 
task of fitting his areas into a sequential array. 

It is the task of human geography as a science of distribution 
to throw the physiographic elements into an ordered framework 
with meaning for cultural science. Such schemes will be both 

23 Ibid., pp. 455-56. 

84 Geography of the Pennyroyal, p. x. 


physical and cultural, and they must of necessity establish relation- 
ships between physical regions and social types. Building on the 
work of the LePlay School in developing the place-work-folk 
formula, Professor Patrick Geddes has suggested a sequential array 
of physiographic regions and characteristic modes of life. Studies 
by the LePlay School were able to point out relations between the 
steppes and pastoral economy, tundras and hunting and fishing, 
forest and hunting, plains and agriculture, and mountains and 
mining. 25 LePlay thus pointed out the simple but needed truth 
that mines produce not merely coal and ores, but, even more sig- 
nificant for civilization, a human type miners; pastures not merely 
sheep but shepherds also. 26 The physical regions are thus corre- 
lated with forms of economy, of social organization in short, of 

LePlay's scheme of distribution, it will be observed, remains 
on a plain surface of two dimensions. It is necessary to relate the 
distribution of culture to topography and thus make it three dimen- 
sional. When this is done it is found the regions fall into an or- 
dered series a natural sequence of regions which may be called 
the physiographic profile. This scheme as worked out by Geddes 
has been called "the most helpful key that has yet been fashioned 
for the elucidation of human geography." 27 With changes it may 
serve to interpret almost any series of regions. It furnishes the 
touchstone by which we shall try to relate the geology of the Ameri- 
can South to its varied regions. 

The most typical land form to be encountered on the globe 
is the physiographic profile as it slopes from the area's land core, 
represented by its highlands, to the sea. Geddes calls this se- 
quence of regions the valley section and finds that it may be di- 
vided into six or seven zones, each serving as the habitat of a cul- 
tural type growing out of the resources and occupations incident 
to the region. 

Beginning with the core of the area's land mass we have first 
the mountains' steep escarpment followed by the dip slope of the 
highlands. The third area, the uplands, levels out to the upland 
plains which slope down to central plains. Next follows the mari- 

88 P. Sorokin, Contemporary Sociological Theories, ch. ii. 

K C. C. Fagg and G. E. Hutchings, An Introduction to Regional Surveying. 

"Ibid.,?. 136. 


time plain or tidewater and after that comes the seacoast and the 
sea. The distribution of social types along the valley section also 
follows a natural sequence. On the escarpment, that steep and 
rocky mountain ledge, is found the miner with his technology and 
life of the mining camp. In the forest of the higher mountain 
slopes lives and works the woodsman, while along the forest edge 
preys the hunter. The uplands furnish the native haunts of the 
shepherd with his pastoral arts. The upland plains, a deeply dis- 
sected plateau, is the home of poor peasants who wring a niggard 
livelihood from unfertile soil while the central plains with open 
fertile tracts harbor the rich peasants. The maritime plains, the 
alluvial and mild tidewater, afford the garden agriculture of the 
truck grower, while on its sea coast fringe the fisherman plies his 
net. 28 It cannot be contended that the generalizations of this 
scheme apply in all details to every physiographic profile. The 
essential fact remains, however, that regions are related in natural 
sequence. Be that as it may, the valley section follows at many 
points the contour of the South and serves both to interpret and 
explain its unity of diversity. 

The South may be considered for the purpose of our analysis as 
consisting of three valley sections which come together at the apex 
of the southern Appalachians, forming what we may call a trihedral 
angle. One valley section slopes at right angles to the Appalachian 
chain from its apex to the Atlantic. This section reaches its great- 
est development across the state of North Carolina. Another slopes 
from this apex to the Mississippi River across the state of Tennessee. 
In this section the so-called Delta with its rich soils subsitutes 
for the sea. The third section from the apex continues parallel 
with the Appalachian chain across Georgia and Alabama until 
it reaches the Gulf Coast near the Mississippi's mouth. To the 
far South the valley section flattens out as we have seen until the 
whole of Florida is a subtropic maritime plain. Moreover, many 
of the zones of the Southeast swing around the southern terminus 
of the Appalachians in crescent or half -moon shape. 

One may best present these regions with their social types by 
giving social-economic cross sections of North Carolina and Tennes- 

88 Ibid., pp. 135-40. 


see. These two states in their profusion of zones are sufficient to 
demonstrate the South of many regions. In traversing their bor- 
ders we shall be describing in terms of culture the areas already de- 
scribed in terms of physiography. 

The apex of the valley slope in Kentucky and West Virginia 
furnishes the mining culture atop the mountain escarpment. It is 
here that the outcrop of minerals, mostly coal and iron, have fur- 
nished a new extractive culture based on an old frontier with its 
origins in hunting and forestry. 

North Carolina's regional series begins with the dip slope. Here 
is the retarded frontier, much like the escarpment except in its 
absence of minerals. It too has passed through the hunting stage 
to arrive at the status of a small self-sufficing economy. As S. H. 
Hobbs points out the "region best illustrates farming as practiced 
before the era of commercialized agriculture." 29 The products 
sold from the farms represent a small proportion of the total value 
of their production, and the cash income per farm is as low as any- 
where in the United States. Of all southern areas it ranks highest 
in percentage of white population, farm ownership, and in the num- 
ber of meat and milk animals per farm. Its churches and schools 
are the poorest in North Carolina. Family ties are strong and the 
denizens of isolated communities are closely related. The illiteracy 
rate is the highest for white people in the United States. 

Following the dip slope of the Carolina highlands come the 
uplands of the Piedmont Plateau. Here we find another area of 
small farms, a frontier yeomanry, which largely came down the 
great valley from Pennsylvania and lived separated by the fall line 
and sand hills from the early tidewater aristocracy. The Piedmont 
dweller, while not the stock raiser of the scheme, is a small land- 
owning farmer growing much of his own living at home. He is in 
the cotton and tobacco economy but not in so deep as in other 
areas. This is the region in which, to use Geddes' phrase, the 
rustic type has assumed its urban disguise. An emerging industrial 
area, it possesses a monopoly of the main branches of tobacco manu- 
facture and is the nation's leading textile area. At the southwest 
the zones curve in a crescent skirting the edges of the Appalachians 
from Birmingham to Danville, Virginia. For North Carolina 
over half of the Piedmont's population is urban and the zone 

"* North Carolina Economic and Social, p. 85. 


has experienced the South's greatest increase in urban ratios. 
There are no great cities if one excepts Atlanta, but the area is 
one of the country's few places where small towns are flourishing. 
Every little town is the site, actual or potential, of a cotton mill to 
which the high tension lines bring the necessary power, stringing 
the mill villages together in the regional economy of a super-power 

The fall line with the narrow sand hills marks the transition to 
the coastal plains. In Geddes' series this is the central plains in- 
habited by the rich peasant type. The area is fertile enough to 
support such a type, but cultural and racial factors find the pop- 
ulation divided into two types landlords and tenants, neither of 
whom are as well off as they might be. Here is the seat of the 
ante-bellum cotton plantation, and today the cash crops of cotton 
and tobacco are cultivated by croppers, share tenants who pay 
either a half or a third or a fourth of their product to landlords. 
First in the nation in its combined production of cotton and to- 
bacco, no other area produces cash crops of such value; no area 
has increased its tenancy rate so rapidly, and in no area do live 
stock, milk, and home-grown vegetables play so little part in farm- 
ing. Sixty-eight percent of all farms are operated by tenants, and 
in this lower group is to be found the most abject rural poverty 
in America. This class owns no property, moves often, is highly 
illiterate, and forms few and tenuous connections with church and 
school. A succession of bad years in cotton and tobacco serves to 
threaten the landlords of the region with bankruptcy. The towns 
give evidence of the wealth to be gained by buying the raw prod- 
ucts of the farm and furnishing the food, feeds, supplies, and ferti- 
lizers purchased but not produced in the commercial farming re- 
gion. Dr. Hobbs well says that the cream of wealth produced 
in this section is skimmed off by the town traders and bankers. 30 

The five years between 1920 and 1925 were sufficient to point 
the trend of increasing differentiation between this plantation area 
and the yeoman farming of the Piedmont. In the twenty-one tobacco 
growing counties of Coastal North Carolina, 60 per cent and more 
of the farmers were tenants. In the nineteen tobacco counties of 
the Piedmont, 69 per cent of the farmers owned their own farms 
and homes. Moreover, between 1920 and 1925 the Coastal Plain 

30 Ibid., p. 76. 


showed a loss of more than 1,700 landowners, 5.3 per cent of the 
number in 1920, and an increase of 6,422 croppers, 4 per cent. In 
the same period the Piedmont counties gained 2,145 landowners, 
an increase of 5.3 per cent over 1920 . 31 

The maritime plain in North Carolina extends inland as far 
as the effects of the tide are visible. As might be expected it con- 
tains both a fishing fringe and a truck gardening culture. Sluggish 
rivers flow through flat swampy areas. There is but one large city, 
and population has long been stagnant. Standards of living are 
largely based on live-at-home farming although cotton and to- 
bacco are increasingly important in their corn, peanut, soy bean, 
and potato culture. The presence of numerous rivers and sounds 
together with the lack of banks and trade have served to restrict 
land transportation facilities. Inland waterways can be greatly im- 
proved, trucking is capable of increase, while the returns from fish, 
oysters, crabs, and scallops are but a promise of the zone's pos- 
sibilities. It is this area which farther down the coast breaks into 
sea islands and at the tip flattens out to include all of Florida where 
it has developed into a tropical garden and orchard culture. 

The preceding survey shows that the theoretical valley section 
applies surprisingly well to the series of regions sloping down the 
eastern tract from the mountains to the sea. It can also be adapted 
with variations for the slope from the highlands to the alluvial val- 
ley of the Mississippi. In fact the extent to which the series of 
physiographic regions of which we have spoken enters into the 
life-complex of a people is well shown in Tennessee. The basic 
geographic regions are six: 

(i) The Appalachian Mountains, a narrow barrier on the eastern 
border; (2) the Great Valley of East Tennessee, a broad depression con- 
taining a succession of parallel ridges and valleys; (3) the Cumberland 
Plateau, a broad barrier region; (4) the Highland Rim or Plain; (5) 
the Central Basin or Plain; (6) the West Tennessee or Gulf Embay- 
ment Plain subordinate to which may be noted the western valley of 
the Tennessee River and the flood plain of the Mississippi. 32 

81 Sidney D. Frissell, Unpublished MS in files of Institute for Research in Social 
Science, University of North Carolina. 

82 L. C. Glenn, "Physiographic Influences in the Development of Tennessee," 
The Resources of Tennessee, April, 1915, pp. 44-63, quoted in C. C. Colby, Eco- 
nomic Geography of North America, pp. 246-56. 


The current of the South's common culture has always found 
the highland region a barrier. The isolation of this tract in colonial 
days led North Carolina both to ignore and irritate the settlers 
until they seceded and formed the short-lived state of Franklin. 
Likewise the migration of the cotton kingdom westward left the 
highlands and plateaus untouched. "Poor, untaught, but inde- 
pendent and self-assertive," writes E. E. Miller, "they saw in the rich 
slave owner of the cotton country a 'furriner' with whom they had 
neither tastes nor interests in common. They came to hate slavery 
and the wealth and culture it produced." 33 They volunteered in 
great numbers for service in the Union armies and made good 
fighters. The retarded Anglo-Saxon of the highlands is no myth; 
on the other hand, he is not a universal type even for that area. 
Proud, sensitive, self-reliant, untaught in the schools, often un- 
churched, untraveled, he is not unlearned in the ways of his world, 
and when one chances to leave for the outside world before his 
personality has become set in the mould of his culture he is likely 
to climb far. For if there be such a thing as good stock, these 
highlanders have it. 

In the great valley society developed as a checkerboard in ac- 
cordance with topography. In the fertile limestone valleys large 
and fertile farms were possible, and in some places slave-owning 
became profitable and the plantation culture developed. A slow 
process of social differentiation has taken place, "and the less 
energetic have been pushed into the poorer lands of the shale hills 
and chert ridges." The divisions in the Civil War were along the 
same lines, neighborhood against neighborhood. The Cumberland 
Plateau with its scanty soils belongs with the ridges and highlands. 
Over most of the plateau slavery was unknown. "During the Civil 
War the people either remained at home, or, if they entered the 
contest, they divided along lines of cleavage made possible by the 
existence of old family or neighborhood grudges and feuds, and 
a good part of the fighting was of a local or guerrilla character be- 
tween bands of so-called home guards." 34 

In the center of the state, the Central Plain, lies the Bluegrass 
region, an area whose soil is made rich by a basis of disintegrating 

83 E. E. Miller, "Three Quarters of Bewilderment," These United States, E. 
Gruening, ed. I, 144. 

34 L. C. Glenn, quoted by Colby, op. cit,, p. 251. 


limestone. Between this area and the Cumberland Plateau lies the 
Highland Plain whose soils varying widely partake of the charac- 
teristics of both its neighboring regions. Fine diversified farms, 
grazing lands, stock, and dairy farming characterize the bluegrass. 
Here are found, to quote E. E. Miller again, "the remains of an 
ante-bellum aristocracy, a country dwelling gentry, prosperous 
farmers who once raised speedy trotters and showy saddle horses." 35 

In ante-bellum days farms were often large, slaves profitable, 
and when the Civil War broke out the men enlisted in the Con- 
federate Army. Now the Jersey and the Shorthorn have replaced 
the old regime, but the region is still rich. L. C. Glenn holds that 
conditions have been better here and the development of civiliza- 
tion has probably been more homogeneous than elsewhere in the 
state. The Bluegrass, one of nature's beauty spots, is loved by all 
who see it. "Its inhabitants are not always so loved. They have 
a certain sense of superiority that cannot always conceal itself." 36 

Next comes the real cotton belt, that portion of the Gulf Plain 
containing the alluvial valleys of the Tennessee and the Mississippi. 
Here one may as well be thrown into the Mississippi Delta or the 
Georgia Black Belt, for it is a region that has little in common with 
the highlands and plateaus. Spreading cotton fields on creek and 
river bottom, tenant shacks, Negro croppers, supply stores, and 
commissaries, all supervised by the supply merchant and the planter, 
go to make up the cultural landscape of the plantation. 

All of these factors have gone over into political geography 
and have contributed toward making Tennessee the doubtful state 
of the democratic South. L. C. Glenn has well analyzed the po- 
litical geography of the Commonwealth : 

The features of the state lend themselves easily to a threefold division 
for political purposes that has long been recognized and observed. The 
division is into east, middle, and west Tennessee. The line separating 
the east and middle division crosses the Cumberland Plateau so that it 
is divided somewhat equally between them, while the line separating 
the middle and western divisions is approximately the lower or north- 
west portion of the Tennessee River. East Tennessee is Republican in 
politics and is interested in diversified agriculture, mining, and manu- 
facturing, while middle and west Tennessee are Democratic politically, 
and interested primarily in agriculture. The two latter divisions with 

35 Op. tit., p. 145. "Ibid., p. 254. 


their common politics and similar, though by no means identical, 
interests, usually dominate in political matters. 

In early days there was a land office and a treasurer for each of these 
three divisions. The Supreme Court still sits in rotation in east, middle, 
and west Tennessee. There is a state normal school for each of the 
three divisions and a state asylum for each division. In the constitu- 
tion of political boards and committees it is usually specified that equal 
representation be given to each of these three divisions, so that in many 
ways the state comprises three separate communities more or less dis- 
tinct and different from each other, and yet united under one system 
of government. 37 

One more example may be given. Lawrence La Forge 38 has 
written an analysis of the map of Georgia that well shows the 
influence of the profile of physiography on the distribution and 
density of population. The sparsest population of the state is found 
in the Coastal Plain where occurs a large proportion of swampy 
land. The valleys of the Savannah and Chattahoochee Rivers on 
the east and west, together with the wider belt forming the 
boundary between the Coastal Plain and the Piedmont Plateau, 
rank next in scattered population. The hilly, broken surface of 
these strips offers less level, tillable land. In the Highlands, also, 
the surface is too rough and the soil too poor to support a dense 

The belt of densest population is a strip of the Piedmont 
stretched diagonally across the state. The climate has rendered this 
area more desirable; water power exists for moving the wheels 
of industry, and trade routes have converged to build up a great 
shipping center at Atlanta. Next in density will be found central 
and southwest portions of the Coastal Plain where are combined 
soil more fertile and topography more level than in the remainder 
of the plain. 

The extent and distribution of towns and cities furnish an 
index of the natural resource ability of a region to support popula- 
tion in masses. "The number of cities and towns in the Coastal 
Plain and in Appalachian Georgia is almost the same, although 

87 Quoted by Colby, op. cit., p. 256. 

38 S. W. McCallie (ed.)> "Physical Geography of Georgia," Geological Survey of 
Georgia, Bulletin 42, p. 157 ff. 


the first division includes 60 per cent and the other, 40 per cent of 
the land area. The Piedmont, the Central Uplands, with only 
31 per cent of the area, contains more than 42 per cent of the in- 
corporated places, 80 per cent of which lie south of the Chatta- 
hoochee River. The influence of topography can best be seen 
in the size of area required for each town. In Georgia, as a whole, 
there is one incorporated town to about 100 square miles of area. 
In the different provinces this ratio ranges from one town to every 
150 square miles in the Lookout Plateau, through one to 123 
square miles in the Highland, one to 120 square miles in the Valley, 
and one to over 73 square miles in the Central Upland." 39 

In the Coastal Plains with their low lying land there are no 
towns except along the railroads, where they are strung like beads. 
La Forge notices that few of the cities are located on large streams. 
Geography here plays its role, for "in a large part of the state the 
level, well drained areas with plenty of room for future growth of 
population are on the uplands and not in the valleys, which are 
as a rule narrow with steep sides." 40 Macon, Augusta, and Colum- 
bus, however, have been enabled to take advantage of sites where 
streams have widened their river valleys into terraces that seem 
ideally formed for city growth. 

Atlanta is the only Georgia metropolis surrounded by satellite 
towns and suburban areas that normally are attracted to large cities. 
That Savannah, Macon, Columbus, and Augusta are conspicuously 
surrounded by empty areas on the map is again due to topography. 

Savannah is situated between tidal marshes on one side and the 
estuary of Savannah River on the other side, and for miles south and 
southwest of the city the surface is subject to occasional inundations 
and there are no good town sites. Macon, Augusta, and Columbus are 
situated in the belt of hilly country along the boundary between the 
Coastal Plain and the Central Upland, where the surface is much 
rougher, is less adapted to attract and support a dense population, and 
is less suitable for town sites than it is farther south in the Coastal Plain 
or farther north in the Central Upland. 41 

If we were to follow it out we should find that the South's third 
valley section runs parallel with the Cumberland range and di- 
agonally transects northern Alabama, southern Mississippi, and 

89 Ibid., p. 159. 

40 Ibid., p. 160. ^Ibid. 


southeastern Louisiana. It repeats the modes of life of the profile 
with interesting variations. The mining area is not found on the 
escarpment but where the dip slope passes under the Coastal Plains 
near Birmingham. In the Coastal Plain is found the piney woods 
belt which at one time occupied at least two zones in the valley 
slope of the old southeast. In addition to their trucking and fish- 
ing fringes, the maritime plains of the Gulf offer both a rice zone 
and a sugar bowl. In other respects the valley section reproduces 
many of the characteristics already noted in North Carolina and 

Thus the South is not one region but many. Because "the 
varied relief of the earth's surface is the geographer's starting point, 
the fundamental fact," 42 we have retraced its physiographic regions. 
For each area we have found that the mode of life practiced by its 
occupants showed some characteristic features. We have seen 
that these regions are not carelessly flung in disordered array but 
that they fit together in the unity of sequence. This concept of 
the valley section serves to relate the physiographic areas with what 
we may call the profile of the South. There yet remains much to 
explain of soil, crop belts, and climate before we can interpret the 
South. We shall meet these again in the consideration of regions 
and resources. Let us begin with man ascending the South's 
profile, slowly climbing up the valley section. 

42 The words are Marion Newbigin's. 



THE EASTERN SHORE of the United States faces the Atlantic Ocean, 
from whose depths it has recently arisen, with a series of gently 
sloping terraces. Sea islands fringing the Carolina coasts and 
drowned rivers up whose channels flow the tides characterize the 
tidewater slope. These shallow water boundaries fringed with 
reefs served to force settlements of that strip back upon the estuaries 
of the rivers. 1 Gently rising, the coastal plain extends some hun- 
dred to two hundred miles until it reaches the fall line. There 
the Piedmont foothills of the Appalachian ranges rise and break 
the smooth flow of the lowland rivers, setting a barrier of rough 
and shallow channels against navigation. The fall line coincides 
roughly with the line of 500 feet altitude above sea level. Ascend- 
ing to a thousand, two thousand, three thousand feet, the shelf 
slopes up more sharply to the Appalachians whose crests in the 
Blue Ridge and Carolina mountains occasionally reach six thou- 
sand feet. Reaching, though discontinuously from Nova Scotia 
to Alabama and Georgia, the Appalachians form a fairly unified 
system of mountains. 

It is up this valley slope, gentle at first, rugged and threatening 
at the last, that the old world peoples may be pictured as ascending 
by the avenue of tidal rivers and mountain valleys. The rush of 
population up the rivers from the coast furnished an aristocratic 
warp of settlement later to be crossed by a more plebian woof 
threaded down the valley from Pennsylvania. True, the first settle- 
ments on the southern coast appeared more as casual stragglers than 
as swarming hordes. Contour and topography, as might be ex- 
pected, persuasively but firmly directed the spread of population 
over the southern map. Population tends to collect at the most 
accessible spots and to spread to the hinterland by lines of least 

1 Livingston Farrand, Basis of American History, p. u. 



resistance. The one check to this tendency the lure of natural 
resources may serve to deflect streams of population from smooth 
channels into more arduous paths. And always behind these 
streams of migration may be found forces driving them out and 
on. For man is by nature loath to leave the old home. 

The most accessible spots were the natural harbors of the 
coast; the lines of least resistance were the rivers that led to the 
back country. When the mountains finally loomed, the passes 
and the valleys furnished the channels of migration. Lured at 
first by mythical gold, the new habitants of the region soon came 
to seek instead good land, fresh and almost free, for tobacco, cotton, 
and food. This chapter attempts to show how the South as a region 
was settled by such a process. 2 

On the broken Atlantic Coast at least three indentations of his- 
torical importance are found in the South. Chesapeake Bay, Albe- 
marle and Pamlico Sounds, with later the Gulf of Mexico and all its 
branches, represent the land welcoming the sea and those it bore. 
From the Chesapeake to Florida the indentations while fewer, smaller, 
and shallower, are, as Farrand says, of great historical importance. 
The southern coastal plain is intersected with small, short rivers 
from the Appalachians to the sea. The Potomac, the James, the 
York, the Roanoke, Neuse, Yadkin, Cape Fear, Santee, Savannah, 
and Altamaha, are parallel streams draining down the coastal slope 
into the sea. Between these a network of creeks further aided the 
process of settlement. 

Waiting as prizes after a race and serving to lure population 
further and further inland, were the undeveloped resources of 
the South. In obedience to society's call for goods and the individ- 
ual's need for means of livelihood, men were to migrate in search 
of the region's "game, the basis of the fur trade; its pine forests 
yielding tar, pitch, turpentine, lumber and ship timbers so much 
in demand in England; its pastures affording fodders for herds 
of horses, cattle and hogs in great number; its fertile soils, which 
were to yield in time great quantities of rice, indigo, and cotton 
together with corn and small grain." 3 

2 Ellen C. Sample from the point of view of the physiographic regionalist in her 
American History and Its Geographic Conditions, and Ulrich B. Phillips as historian 
of industrial processes in his American Negro Slavery and Plantation and Frontier 
Documents, have best generalized this field. 

8 William A. Schaper, "Sectionalism and Representation in South Carolina," 
American Historical Association, Report, 1900, I, 258. 


The colonists found the pathways to these areas already in use 
when they arrived. The use of the entrances and exits provided 
by geology had been indicated by the Indians. Writes Turner in his 
illuminating manner: 

The Indian trade pioneered the way for civilization. The buffalo trail 
became the Indian trail, and this became the traders' "trace," the trails 
widened into roads, and the roads into turnpikes, and these in turn 
were transformed into railroads. The same origins can be shown for 
the railroads of the South, the far West and the Dominion of Canada. 
The trading post, reached by these trails were on the sites of Indian 
villages which had been placed in positions suggested by nature; and 
these trading posts, situated so as to command the water systems of the 
country, have grown into such cities as Albany, Pittsburgh, Detroit, 
Chicago, St. Louis, Council Bluffs, and Kansas City. Thus civilization 
in America has followed the arteries made by geology pouring an ever 
richer tide through them, until at last the slender paths of aboriginal 
intercourse have been broadened and interwoven into the complex 
mazes of modern commercial lines, the wilderness has been interpene- 
trated by lines of civilization growing ever more numerous. 4 

References to early racial elements in the population will no 
longer serve to account for differences in the development of North 
and South. In culture, in economic status, and in social rank, the 
newly arrived immigrants of both areas were pretty much alike. 
The researches of T. J. Wertenbaker have shown that the Virginia 
aristocracy itself rose from the English merchant class. 5 Germans 
made up much of the later immigration to the South, but they 
came in great part from Pennsylvania. True, New England had 
her Puritans distinctive in culture and tradition, but the early 
South possessed a stock of a culture no less distinctive. The most 
notable contribution to southern population was a cultural group, 
less set off by physical traits of race than by their social heritage. 
The lowland Scotch, transplanted first to Ulster, then to America, 
were wrongly called Scotch-Irish. Intensely conditioned by their 
historic culture, the Scotch-Irish "carried with them," as Justin 
Windsor has pointed out, "all that excitable and determined char- 
acter which goes with a keen-minded adherence to original sin, total 
depravity, predestination and election." 6 He was a "zealot as a 

* The Frontier in American History, p. 14. 

5 Patrician and Plebian in Virginia; The Planters of Colonial Virginia. 

8 The Westward Movement, p. 12. 


citizen and a zealot as a merchant, no less than as a Presbyterian. 
Thanks to his persecutors, he made a religion of everything he 
undertook and regarded his civil rights as divine rights. Thus out 
of persecution emerged a type of man who was high principled 
and narrow, strong and violent, as tenacious of his own rights as 
he was blind often to the rights of others, acquisitive yet self-sacri- 
ficing, but most of all fearless, confident of his own power, deter- 
mined to have and to hold." 7 

On the other hand, these new entrants were an important colonial 
unifying force. Moving directly to the West, they had no loyalty to any 
individual colonial government. Colonial boundaries, even if known, 
were of little importance in the wilderness. Both the yeoman and 
the Scotch-Irish tended to follow the mountain valleys which ran north 
and south. They came to think of themselves only as Americans and 
not as inhabitants of some particular colony. 8 

These so-called racial streams consisted merely of national groups 
which settled together because of common culture. Their variety 
and yet their essential likeness is well shown by the five "racial" 
streams that entered North Carolina. 9 The English from Virginia, 
alleged by William Byrd and John Fiske to be "shiftless people 
who could not make a living for themselves in Virginia," 10 settled 
around the Chowan River and Albemarle Sound from 1635 on to 
1663. A few French Huguenots from Charleston, South Carolina, 
found their way to the neighboring province. Scotch Highlanders 
of the MacDonald clan, including the famous Flora herself, lo- 
cated on the Cape Fear River around 1729. By 1760 it was esti- 
mated that 40,000 Ulster Scotchmen, some having come 435 miles 
down the Great Valley from Pennsylvania, had settled on the Cape 
Fear River and in the Carolina Uplands. Following the same 
route from 1745 to 1775 Germans settled Western North Carolina 
in and about what is now Forsyth County. 

In the settlement of America the curious-minded may perceive 
a geographic laboratory in which is worked out the interesting 
problem of how population disperses itself over a new map. We 
are not forced back to prehistory with speculations about primitive 

7 Constance Lindsay Skinner, Pioneers of the Old Southwest, pp. 5-6. 

8 Robert Riegel, America Moves West, p. 6. 

9 R. D. W. Connor, History of North Carolina, I, 178. 

10 John Fiske, Old Virginia and Her Neighbors, II, 271. 


migrations; the settlement of America is almost contemporaneous, 
and it is well recorded. Neither do we have to wait for the slow 
processes of natural growth of population; the streams of migra- 
tion are steadily pushed into the interior by increments from Europe. 
If there are to be found anywhere geographic influences, gross or 
subtle, upon population distribution they should be evident here. 
"The ordinary process of development of an American state," points 
out Carl O. Saner, "involved the emergence on the frontier of a 
detached, vigorously growing center based on the discovery of 
valuable and coherent new country." 11 This well-defined nuclear 
area of superior fertility, easy accessibility, and early settlement 
organized and dominated the surrounding frontier. We shall find 
this process repeated in the relation of the Tidewater region to 
Virginia, the Charleston area to South Carolina, the Savannah area 
to Georgia, the New Orleans Delta to Louisiana, the Bluegrass to 
Kentucky, the Nashville Basin to Tennessee, and the Yazoo Delta 
to Mississippi. In the formation of states and the establishment of 
state boundaries Sauer points out that convenient lines of demarca- 
tion were often drawn through regions of lower attraction at the 
time sparsely settled so as to make dominant settlements central 
in position. Little counties in the tidewater and big counties in the 
back country attested to this dominance. A proportion which first 
indicated the relative population densities of the two areas was, 
after the back country filled up, retained by the dominant tidewater 
to the advantage of their proportional representation. 

After the first shock of acclimation to a new area, debilitating 
diseases, and a strange staple of agriculture, population grew and 
spread itself abroad. And as always it followed the lure of re- 
sources by the geographic line of least resistance. The Chesapeake 
Bay and its tributary, the James, had offered the first invitation 
to settlement. "Twelve years after the founding of Jamestown, 
twenty-five miles from the mouth of the James River, the planta- 
tions extended up that water course for seventy miles, spreading 
out four to six miles from either bank. 12 The rivers lent them- 
selves to use both as lines of least resistance to the incoming colt 
onist and as avenues for transporting his staples. By 1624 planta- 

u Geography of the Kentucty Pennyroyal, pp. 10-11. 

12 Ellen Semple, American History and Its Geographic Conditions, p. 33. 

tions dotted the shores to the head of navigation at the present 
site o Richmond: by 1663 this area merged on the map to the 
north with the Maryland colony at the Potomac and reached south 
to Chowan Peninsula on Albemarle Sound. 13 

"The "stringtown" method of settlement served to push pop- 
ulation further up the rivers, while at the same time increasing 
density enabled the settlers to fill up the areas of land interlaced 
with streams that were to be found between the larger rivers. 
Widely scattered population, few towns, and the use of rivers for 
transportation rather than the building of roads resulted. In addi- 
tion, the staple agriculture led planters to act as immigration agents 
in recruiting indentured servants. 

The first clearings on the York River had begun about 1630; 
the Rappahannock and the Potomac had come next. Already 
social differences between regions had begun to appear. 14 Tide- 
water peninsulas were held chiefly by planters; mainland and up- 
land, south and west, offered settlement to men of little property. 
These farmers, living more within the bounds of domestic econ- 
omy, "found it of no advantage to live within hail of ocean-going 
ships; and most of those who owned tidewater farms sold them 
to neighboring planters and moved inland." 15 

The coast and the rivers leading to it did not open the only 
avenue of advance into this area. The Great Valley lay as a 
trough between crests of Appalachian ridges. This continuous 
geological formation, reaching from eastern Pennsylvania, known 
as the Shenandoah in Virginia, led by easy stages to upland and 
back country. Thus, while the planters still clung to the tidewater 
and the most daring settlers of Virginia and Maryland had built 
their cabins within fifty miles of the Blue Ridge, a stream of immi- 
gration poured into the back country of North Carolina. "It 
was shortly before 1740 that this tide reached North Carolina. 
Coming down from Virginia it ran along the head waters of the 
Yadkin, Haw, Neuse, Tar, Catawba, and Deep Rivers until the 
whole country from what is now the vicinity of Raleigh in the 
east to the neighborhood of Morganton on the west was taken 

13 Ibid. 

14 U. B. Phillips, Plantation and Frontier, I, 76. Much of this account must follow 
with unreserved acknowledgment Dr. Phillips' analysis. 



up." 16 Governor Tryon reported that in the summer and winter 
of 1765 more than a thousand immigrant wagons passed through 
Salisbury. As Bassett says, they came by families, friendly bands or 
by congregations; Scotch-Irish, English, Germans and Pennsylvania 
Dutch, Moravians, and Welsh. The Great Valley thus became 
(as it remains today) "a stronghold of Scotch-Irish Presbyterianism, 
standing out in marked contrast, sometimes in sharp antagonism 
to the Anglican influence of the tidewater." 17 

In the meantime, a somewhat different population grouping 
had grown up in the tidewater of the lower South. Around Charles- 
ton on the Ashley and Cooper Rivers about 1670 and later at 
Savannah grew up a notable planter society in a rich indigo and 
rice district. Unlike early Virginia this region developed a town 
life which did much in giving cultural "unity and coherence to a 
heterogeneous mass of people in an undeveloped country." 18 So- 
ciety here, to a much greater extent, was organized upon the basis 
of the planter and his plantation. The many swamps tended to 
keep population sparsely settled, and isolation must have en- 
couraged their visits to Charleston. Moreover, the concentration 
of rice marketing in Charleston due to shallow rivers prevented 
the development of a "sylvan Venice" comparable to Virginia. 
<6 The Charleston-Savannah district," 1 as Phillips remarks, "em- 
ploying very few indented servants and attracting very few inde- 
pendent white laborers" did not furnish an industrial society cal- 
culated to send out either pioneers or frontier farmers. 19 

These were furnished by the Valley migration which by now 
had debouched into Piedmont South Carolina and Upland Georgia. 
These thinly settled groupings of backwoods farmers were of 
the true frontier stamp. That the inhabitants of the back country 
with its "broken region of red clay soil" kept so distinct from the 
tidewater was due to another topographical feature. Both the sand- 
hills and pine barrens reaching from southern Virginia to upper 
Georgia formed a natural barrier between the Piedmont and the 
middle country. With an altitude as high as 600 to 700 feet, the; 

16 John Spencer Bassett, "Regulators in North Carolina," American Historical 
Reports (1894), p. 145. 

"Evarts Boutell Greene, Provincial America, p. 236. 

M Schaper, "Sectionalism and Representation in South Carolina," American His- 
torical Association, Report, 1900, I, 259. 

19 Plantation and Frontier, I, 82, 


sandhills possessed a soil once thought to be utterly worthless. 
To reach the upland areas men from the coast would have to cross 
from fifty to one hundred fifty miles of "pine barrens" practically 
devoid of resources. Only a thin stream from Charleston crossed 
this natural barrier to join the full tide of immigration from the 
north. 20 The coastal regime in both the Carolinas thus came to be 
cut off from their important upland fringes and to lack touch with 
the needs and wishes of the frontier. Out of this fact of cultural 
geography grew struggles over representation in Virginia and both 
the Carolinas, the War of Regulation in North Carolina, and the 
abortive Regulators' Movement in South Carolina. 

At the outbreak of the Revolution the South could show about 
three areas fairly well settled. The Chesapeake lowlands and sur- 
rounding hill regions boasted widespread rural communities based 
on tobacco and containing the promising towns of Baltimore, 
Annapolis, Norfolk, and Richmond. The back country, stretching 
from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia to the Piedmont of the 
Carolinas, was thinly settled by frontier farmer folks. Besides 
the well-developed plantation section of the Carolina-Georgia low- 
lands there were to be found only a few "feeble garrisons and trifling 
posts for the Indian trade" at St. Augustine, Pensacola, Mobile, 
Biloxi, New Orleans, and Natchez. 21 

That the early American settlements fringed the coast was due 
to that stubborn fact of geography, the Appalachian barrier. It had 
a width of almost three hundred miles and from Maine to Alabama 
its tangled forests stretched without a break. "It was long before 
its geography was known" and as Shaler adds it must have seemed 
to civilized men almost as impassable as the Alps. 22 The Spanish 
dotted the country with detached settlements and the French tried 
to encompass a territory extending from the St. Lawrence and 
Great Lakes down the Mississippi. For a hundred and fifty years 
the colonists remained hemmed up against the Appalachians. Ac- 
cordingly, "it was possible in 1700 to ride from Portland, Maine, to 
southern Virginia, sleeping each night in some considerable vil- 
lage." 23 The English had found, in Miss Semple's words, "a 
naturally defined area isolated enough to lend them protection 

20 Ibid. 21 Ibid., pp. 83-84. 

22 N. S. Shaler, Nature and Man in America, p. 195. 


and cohesion. . . . The Appalachian barrier narrowed their horizon 
and shut out the great beyond; it transformed the hunter into the 
farmer and the gentleman adventurer into the tobacco grower." 24 
"If our ancestors on the continents," speculates Shaler, "had secured 
a ready access to the interior, it is likely that a hundred years 
would have gone by before the colonies became sufficiently dense 
in population to permit the interactive life which prepared the way 
for the American Revolution." 25 

Before the end of the Revolution only three small areas of set- 
tlement were pushed across the Appalachians two through the 
famous Cumberland Gap. To the west of the Yadkin River on the 
Watauga was established in 1769 the first settlement in the present 
Tennessee. Peopled largely by participants in the unsuccessful 
Regulators' Movement of North Carolina, the settlement pos- 
sessed in handsome, well-educated John Sevier the most cultured 
man on the whole frontier. Judge Richard Henderson with the 
aid of Daniel Boone settled his Transylvania purchase from the 
Indians in the heart of the Kentucky Bluegrass around 1775. When 
the grant was invalidated the Judge received land on the Cumber- 
land at the site of the present Nashville. There James Robertson 
with eight others started Nashborough and had five hundred set- 
tlers within a year. 


The eighty odd years from the Revolution to the Civil War were 
to see the resistless tides of peoples rise and fill the valleys and 
uplands of the South. As population became denser and the state 
of the arts advanced, culture came to count mpre than in the 
colonists' early struggles against nature undisguised and untamed. 
The forces pushing the Americans on in their westward trek 
across the map and the paths by which they advanced should be 
considered in accounting for population dispersal. 

The pressure of immigration from England and other parts 
of Europe aided by the generous native birth-rate furnished the 
first incentive to expansion. Many of the immigrants were re- 
ceived within the folds of the prevailing system as apprentices, 
indentured servants or hired men. When they rose to independ- 
ence their new status required the feel of good dirt of their own 

** American History and Its Geographic Conditions, pp. 37-38. 
25 Op. cit., p. 199. 


under their feet. As apprentices they took up no room in the social 
system; as freemen they sought land and thus forced an expansion 
that was both spatial and social. Geographic expansion was thus 
an unavoidable concomitant of the natural process going on within 
society. The "stringtown" agriculture pushing its way along the 
river banks made the expansion less in breadth but greater in 
length. But this Virginia pattern cannot be applied to the whole 
South; by the time the tide of migration down the valley reached 
upland Georgia, the settlers were crossing streams without much 
regard for their potentialities either as barriers or as avenues for 
transport. Slavery was to make in course of time an aristocracy 
out of the frontier, pushing yeomen out of the developing black belts 
into the uplands. After the cotton gin made cotton a staple rather 
than a plant of doubtful value the untilled acres of the upland 
and Mississippi South continued to draw planters until the Civil 
War. The cyclical rise and fall of agricultural prices especially after 
the close of the Napoleonic Wars sent bankrupt farmers on a long 
trip to the West to escape debt and taxes by a new start. Soil ex- 
haustion in the eastern area, first cropped to tobacco, pushed 
planters to seek the rich black lands of Alabama, Mississippi, and 
later Texas. Land and slaves for southern society of the first half 
of the nineteenth century were the supreme social value. Land 
ownership, as Miss Martineau well saw, was regarded as the solu- 
tion for all individual and social ills. "The possession of land is 
the aim of all action, generally speaking, and the cure of all social 
evils among men in the United States. If a man is disappointed in 
politics or love he goes and buys land. If he disgraces himself, he 
betakes himself to a lot in the West. If the demand for any article 
of manufacture slackens, the operatives drop into the unsettled 
lands. If a citizen's neighbors rise above him in the towns, he be- 
takes himself where he can be monarch of all he surveys. An 
artisan works that he may die on land of his own. He is frugal 
that he may enable his son to be a landowner." 26 

Writing of the American scene as it appeared in 1800, Henry 
Adams pointed out that "no civilized country had yet been required 
to deal with physical difficulties so serious, nor did experience war- 
rant the conviction that such difficulties could be overcome." It 
was a thousand miles from New York to the nearest possible port 

23 Harriett Martineau, Society in America, I, 292, 


on the Mississippi; it was twelve hundred miles from Washington 
to the site of Natchez. "If the Puritans and the Dutch needed a 
century or more to reach the Mohawk, when," he asked with rea- 
son, "would they reach the Mississippi?" But, as if the Revolu- 
tion had been a restraining leash, at its close they broke through 
the mountain barrier and poured down upon the Mississippi 
plain which Jefferson had finally secured for them in i8o3. 27 

The place of rivers as avenues of approach was now taken by, 
first, the mountain passes and trails, and next the traces and post 
roads to the lower Mississippi. While the first movements of note 
into the mountains occurred between 1720 and 1770, extensive trans- 
appalachian settlements were not made until after the Revolution. 
The parallel ridges of the Appalachians running roughly northeast 
and southwest enclosed a few streams like the Shenandoah, the 
New, and the Holston, but the great drainage streams cut across 
the grain of the mountains from west to east, or east to west. 28 
In the stages of geology these rivers were older than the great 
ridges themselves, and they retained their ancient beds by con- 
tinuous erosion. In so doing they created paths for the incoming 
flow of population. In their earlier wanderings Indian and buffalo 
had kept to the wind-swept crests of ridges free of dense timber 
and erosion, but the incoming white man lowered the trails from 
ridge tops to river valleys. 29 

Rounding the southern end of the Appalachians the level road- 
ways of the Gulf and Coastal Plain, broken only by occasional 
swamps and rivers, led to the Mississippi Valley. It was barred, 
however, by the Indians, and until 1820 the Creeks and Cherokees 
were able to confine Georgia within the Altamaha and the Ocmul- 
gee Rivers. 30 Over the mountains, however, at least four trails 
led the southerners to the West. 31 Trails from Winchester, Vir- 
ginia, and Fredericksburg, Maryland, led to Cumberland Fort at 
the head waters of the Potomac where they connected with the 
Youghiogheny and Monongahela by the "Shades of Death" and 
Great Meadows. The Valley road which, by the Broad and Yad- 
kin, led to the Carolinas and to Charleston by the New led through 

"History of the United States, I, 16. 

^Semple, American History and Its Geographic Conditions, p. 55. 

29 Archer B. Hulbert, The Paths of Inland Commerce, pp. 14-15. 

^Semple, op. cit., pp. 63-64. 

81 Hulbert, op. cit., pp. 18-19; Semple, op. cit., p. 65 ff. 


western passes to the uplands of Tennessee. Continuing between 
the ridges, migrants found that the Cumberland Gap opened upon 
the Warriors Trail, a direct path to the dark and bloody grounds 
of Kentucky. To the southwest ran the old Rutherfordton Trail 
which the Southern Railway now follows through Asheville. By 
these paths the pack horse trade with the Indians first found its 
way; here the settlers poured down valleys and through passes, 
and by these trails traders supplied the needs of the white settlers 
on the frontier. 

The line of the frontier as drawn at the time of the first census 
in 1790 shows most of New York, Pennsylvania, and Georgia va- 
cant of citizens. 32 Population at its furtherest reaches extended 
from southwest Pennsylvania down the Ohio and between the 
parallel valleys of the Holston and the Clinch into upland Tennes- 
see on the northeast. South of the great bend in the Ohio the pres- 
ent state of Kentucky consisted of clustered settlements along rivers 
and creeks cut off from Virginia by the rugged .Cumberland 
Plateau. 33 The line marking the limits occupied by hostile In- 
dians in 1790 pointed out the areas of immediate future expan- 
sion. 34 Practically all of present New York, Pennsylvania, and Ken- 
tucky were open to settlement. Accordingly, the map of 1800 
shows South Carolina filled in and the Tennessee and Kentucky 
areas grown much larger, especially the space around Nashville. 35 

The spread of cotton culture to the uplands beginning in the 
early iSoo's and the removal of Indian tribes after 1820, brought 
into prominence the paths to the lower Mississippi Valley. Already 
far-flung groups of settlers on the Tombigbee and between the 
Natchez district and the Yazoo suggested the beginnings of Mis- 
sissippi and Alabama. 36 Travelers to these regions and the long 
prominent but lately acquired New Orleans came down the Ohio 
or Tennessee into the Mississippi. The first trails from Charles- 
ton and Savannah to Mobile and New Orleans were primitive 

33 A Century of Population Growth, 1790-1900, U. S. Bureau of the Census, 1909, 
map, p. 1 8. 

88 Semple, op. cit., p. 72. 

M /4 Century oj Population Growth, 1790-1900, U. S. Bureau of the Census, 1909, 
map, p. 38. 

"See Dixon Ryan Fox, Harper's Atlas oj American History, p. 23. 

w Semple, op. cit., p. 157. 


paths whose "forests, thickets, swamps, and innumerable water 

courses were sufficient to deter all but the most adventurous." 37 

The first passable land routes to the valley were developed out 
of the post roads established for carrying the mails. Congress cre- 
ated a post road from Nashville to Natchez in 1800 and after 
the acquisition of Louisiana the mail was sent on to New Orleans. 
By 1804 a mail route from Washington by way of Knoxville and 
Nashville to Natchez, a distance of 1,300 miles, could be traversed 
in twenty-four days. 38 Another route was proposed around the 
Appalachian through Virginia, the back parts of North Carolina 
and South Carolina to Jackson Court House in Georgia, thence by 
as level a route as possible to New Orleans. It led from Fredericks- 
burg by Danville, Salisbury, Spartanburg, Greenville thence to 
the Tombigbee settlements about Mobile by an Indian trading path 
along a fine, high, level, sandy ridge, thence from Mobile to New 
Orleans. 39 There finally came to be suggested three roads lead- 
ing from Washington to New Orleans: the eastern, middle, and 
western trails. The first led from Washington by way of Rich- 
mond, Raleigh, Columbia, Milledgeville via the Alabama River 
to New Orleans. The middle route went through the Piedmont 
either by Georgetown, Charlotte, Lynchburg, and Danville or by 
Alexandria, Fredericksburg, Cumberland Court House, and Greens- 
boro. They joined at Salisbury and proceeded to Monticello, Geor- 
gia, where they united with the eastern route. The western 
trail led from Washington through Georgetown, Fairfax Court 
House, by Lexington in the Shenandoah Valley, to Knoxville, 
thence through Alabama to Natchez and on to New Orleans. 40 

By the time the culture of cotton became an established tech- 
nology, migration pretty well followed isothermal lines. After at- 
tempts to establish cotton culture in Missouri failed, southerners 
from the eastern belt went to the southern west. Sir Charles Lyell 
thought he saw in the migrations of the 1840*5 an attempt of ad- 
vancing settlers to secure the type of physical environment they 
had left behind. "They who go southward from Virginia to 
North and South Carolina and thence to Georgia and Alabama 
follow, as if by instinct, the corresponding zones of country. The 

37 Julian P. Bretz, "Early Land Communication with the Lower Mississippi 
Valley," The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XIII, 3. 
88 Ibid., p. g. 
"Ibid., p. 17. "Ibid., pp. 24-25. 


inhabitants of the red soil of the granitic region keep to their oak 
and hickory, the 'crackers' of the tertiary pine barriers to their 
lightwoods, and they of the newest geological formations in the sea- 
islands to their fish and oysters." 41 

The year 1820 found Georgia extended as far west as the Oc- 
mulgee, where she was barred by the Cherokee and Creek Indians. 
The next area of settlement spread from Mobile up the Tombigbee 
and Alabama Rivers as far north as Muscle Shoals, connecting with 
the overflow from Tennessee. From lower Louisiana fringes of 
population extended up the Mississippi, the Red, the Ouachita and 
the Yazoo Rivers. Areas of sparse settlement were found in Arkan- 
sas along the Mississippi and extending up the Arkansas, White, 
and St. Francis Rivers. Louisiana had been admitted as a state 
in 1812. In a time of shifting politics Mississippi with fifty thou- 
sand souls, including slaves, was judged worthy of admission in 
1817. Alabama followed in 1819 and Arkansas in 1836. 

By 1840 all these areas had filled out, leaving sparsely settled 
sections in the interior swamps of southern Georgia, the flat coastal 
lowlands of Alabama and Mississippi, and the Ozark-Ouachita 
highlands and St. Francis bottoms of Arkansas. By 1850 the frontier 
line had passed Arkansas and pushed out a sector of southeast 
Texas. While Texas had been settled much earlier the census 
of its population distribution could not appear on our map before 
its annexation in 1845. The Pine Barrens, fringes of the Gulf and 
swampy lands, still stood out as regions of sparse population. 42 

The processes of population movement were characteristic of a 
changing frontier order. Phillips has spoken of a pell-mell regime 
in which a scrambling, scattered mass of planters, slaves, farmers, 
poor whites, and frontiersmen nearly all were concerned with get- 
ting cotton lands. 43 The vast impersonal processes of migration 
receive added illumination when viewed in the movements of 
individuals. The appearance made by migrating plantation forces 
is suggested by a sarcastic news item from a newspaper in the 
slowly depleting Eastern Belt: "Arrived in town last evening on 
his way to the Mississippi, Brigadier General Wade Hampton and 
suit, Commander in Chief of the Western Army, preceded by a divi- 

41 A Second Visit to the United States, II, 89. 

42 See maps Semple, op. cit., pp. 152, 153. Fox, op. cit., pp. 33, 56. 

43 Plantation and Frontier, I, 85-86. 


sion of fifty ragged meagre looking negro infantry. Should his Ex- 
cellency fail in obtaining laurels before Mobile, he will be able 
to make sugar at New Orleans." 44 

The ability to change habitat and occupation, developed in the 
frontier with its free lands and unrestricted migrations, is well 
shown in the Autobiography of Gideon Lincecum.^ Born in mid- 
dle Georgia in 1793 of parents who had moved from North Caro- 
lina, he taught school for a year at the age of 24, traded with the 
Indians in 1819, and served as surveyor and school commissioner 
at Columbus, Mississippi. He resumed Indian trading, was in- 
valided for three years by a sunstroke, but cured himself after 
he had been given up by physicians. He managed a team of 
Choctaw ball players in a tour of the United States in 1830, and 
then began the practice of medicine. Discontented with prevail- 
ing systems he studied among the Indians and thereafter used their 
herb remedies. In 1834 he made explorations in Texas, returned 
to practice medicine at Columbus for seven years, and finally re- 
moved to Texas as a planter, physician, and a student of natural 

The problems of an immigrant of higher economic status are 
given in the migrations of a Maryland slaveholder, Leonard Cov- 
ington, from 1806 to i8i2. 46 Covington, a member of Congress, 
after a period of depression in tobacco prices, found his Aquasco 
plantation deeply in debt. He received encouraging reports con- 
cerning Mississippi Territory from his brother, Alexander, who had 
removed thither. Accordingly, Covington organized a group of 
his neighbors as immigrants and directed his brother to purchase 
a parcel of public lands for their settlement. Unable to dispose 
of his Maryland plantation at a satisfactory price in a period of 
depression, he nevertheless sent thirty-six slaves down the Ohio 
to Mississippi. Twenty-six slaves, the remainder, he left to work 
the Maryland plantation under an overseer. Covington, himself, 
was appointed lieutenant-colonel in the regular army before leav- 
ing Maryland and served continuously until killed in Canada dur- 
ing the War of 1812. 

"Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle, Nov. 15, 1811, quoted by U. B. Phillips, Plantation 
and Frontier, II, 196. 

46 Published in Mississippi Historical Society Publications, VIII, 443-519. Sum- 
marized by Phillips, Plantation and Frontier, II, 185. 

"Summarized from his letters by Phillips, Plantation and Frontier, II, 201. 

To a certain William C. Duncan, writing for Mr. De Bow in the 
fifties, the pell-mell regime in the Mississippi Valley seemed des- 
tined to be the highest development of the human race. "The 
Caucasians of the Valley are destined to be, if they are not now, 
the most mixed race which has ever existed. . . . Here in a new 
climate, intermarrying with the people of the country, their physi- 
cal wants abundantly supplied, and under new moral, social, and 
political relations, their previous habits will in time be modified, 
and their physical peculiarities worn gradually away, until at 
last their descendants will be indistinguishable from the mass 
of the population." 47 Already these lowlands had become regions 
of large slaveholdings for the production of cotton and sugar," 
"especially subject to spasms of inflation and depression." 48 Of 
Louisiana in 1823 Timothy Flint wrote, the "people in the pine 
woods raise cattle by the hundreds and thousand's are poor, 
satisfied, and healthy. In the bottoms are the sugar and cotton 
plantations with wealth and sickness." 49 The same held true 
for early Mississippi. 

Florida lay outside the cotton belt, although after its pur- 
chase in 1819 it received some immigration in the northern part. 
Its settlement was so retarded, however, that it was barely admitted 
to statehood in time to withdraw with the Confederacy. Texas 
furnished the one remaining goal of the population advance. The 
prairies for ranching and the river valleys and black lands for 
cotton drew many settlers to what is now southeastern Texas. 
The establishments were more scattered, fewer slaves were carried 
into the region, and agriculture partook more of the nature of 
domestic economy. 

The distribution of population in the South on the eve of 1860 
may now be set forth. Tidewater Virginia had passed through a 
period of soil exhaustion at the hands of plantation economy in the 
raising of tobacco and was now being tilled in many instances by 
farmers using northern methods. Planters who failed to divide 
their estates up into smaller units for raising varied crops were liv- 
ing after a fashion, some partly on the proceeds of the sale of their 
slaves. The extension of cotton culture together with the erosion 

" De Bow, Resources of the Southern and Western States, I, 8. 

48 Phillips, Plantation and frontier, I, p. 87. 

49 In his Last Ten Years in the Valley of the Mississippi, quoted by Semplc, 
op. cit., p. 167. 


to which the rolling hills, denuded of forest cover, proved peculiarly 
susceptible had left the Piedmont of the Carolinas in somewhat 
the same stage of soil exhaustion. In the Shenandoah Valley, how- 
ever, attempts to introduce plantation economy had failed and the 
farmers followed northern methods, producing steady crops of 
hay, grain, and fruit. 

The Charleston-Savannah region with its sea islands devoted 
to cotton and its swamps taken over for rice, remained possibly the 
most prosperous part of the eastern belt under the plantation 
regime. 50 The neighboring pine barrens and sandhills in the 
back country and Florida remained sparsely settled with a poor 
class of white farmers. Cotton had not been long introduced into 
the uplands of Georgia and South Carolina. Much of the area 
was cultivated by small farmers and all of it was fairly prosperous. 
But the area which for four decades had bought spare Negroes 
from the Eastern Belt and served as magnet for the migrant pop- 
ulation of the South was composed of the Alabama Black Prairie, 
the Mississippi and Red River bottoms, and portions of east Texas. 
Here cotton was most flourishing and sugar estates existed in 
great plantations. Kentucky and middle Tennessee were regions 
of diversified agriculture with some industrial development, while 
the isolated mountain dwellers of Kentucky, West Virginia, and 
Western North Carolina remained completely out of the current 
of southern culture. 

A final glance, before we close this brief survey, at the area 
first settled in America shows some surprising changes in popula- 
tion ratios. Some of the most flourishing of the early settled 
tidewater and coastal areas are more sparsely settled today than 
when the first census was taken in 1790. Population depletion can 
be found in northern New England, portions of eastern and west- 
ern rural New York and Central Pennsylvania. In the South a 
strip of counties from Central Virginia to the eastern shore, in 
the north central area of North Carolina, scattered counties in 
the upper northwestern section of Georgia, in Middle Tennessee, 
and in fringes of northern Kentucky show less population now 
than in the first census after their settlement. In many cases this 

50 Phillips, Plantation and Frontier, I, 88-91. 


can be shown to result from the tendency to subdivide large 
counties as the population grew denser. 51 Exactly how much the 
boundaries of these counties have contracted is a question involv- 
ing difficult research into old maps and survey records. In Vir- 
ginia, however, seven tidewater and three Piedmont counties with- 
out having undergone any change of boundaries showed smaller 
total population iru 1920 than in 1790. The Institute for Research 
in the Social Sciences at the State University made a study of the 
contemporary processes of migration. They found among other 
things that in the proportion of migration Negroes exceeded whites, 
females exceeded males, and the children of farm owners ex- 
ceeded the children of tenants. Sixty per cent of the white and only 
27 per cent of the Negro migrants remained in the state. More 
women than men, more Negroes than whites went to cities. The 
prevailing trend, however, is from country to city. Only 12 per 
cent of the migrants went into farming as an occupation, while 
21 per cent of those who remained depend on timber and fishing 
rather than on agriculture. The lure of the city and the decreasing 
importance of agriculture is sufficient to show how sharp a break 
exists between old forms of population movements and the new. 52 
The same comparative decline appears to have taken place in first 
settled tidewater areas of South Carolina and Georgia. The pass- 
ing of rice culture and the unhealthful climate and contour have 
left Savannah and Charleston almost without an agricultural hinter- 
land. Around Savannah once proud estates have been broken 
up and sold to small Negro farmers who now make up the bulk 
of the yeomanry occupying the district. 

In the settlement of the South it is to be seriously doubted that 
the contour of the land offered advancing colonials any obstacles 
more severe than those confronting the northern group. The 
South was particularly fortunate in her rivers, channels to the 
back country, and runways of commerce. The Appalachians, it 
is true, were a barrier, but a benevolent one for her early develop- 
ment. They served to prevent hasty expansion and to isolate 
the group in some measure from hostile Indians. When the time 

51 A Century of Population Growth, 1790-1900, U. S. Bureau of the Census, 1909, 
P- 73 #. 

62 Wilson Gee and J. J. Corson, Jr., Population Depletion in Certain Tidewater 
and Piedmont Areas of Virginia. 


came for the growth of population to force expansion, the barrier 
could be either crossed by natural trails or skirted around its 
southern tip on the route to New Orleans. Rivers, the crests of 
ridges, mountain passes, and valleys served as natural roadways 
for population movements up the valley section and beyond. In 
the population dispersal the frontier fringe led the advance. When 
an area of outstanding advantage was reached it became a densely 
settled plantation region which served as the nucleus for organizing 
and dominating the surrounding frontier zones. If different cul- 
tural developments occurred in the South during this era, as un- 
doubtedly they did, they must be laid largely to what Ulrich B. 
Phillips has called "the combined and interacting influence of the 
frontier and plantation systems." 



"To CLEAR the forest, hunt the wild beasts, scatter the savage tribes, 
and rout the hordes of a less hardy race than their own; then to 
till the soil, dig in the mines and work out the rude ways of 
physical existence these form the elements of American civiliza- 
tion. All the higher duties of human improvement are done 
for her. The exercises of lofty thought and the elegancies of 
art all come from Europe. She has no such indigenous standards 
of tastes and knowledge as that in which they have their source." 
Thus wrote an early English traveler and attempted to define the 
impress the frontier had already left on America. 1 Professor 
Boutmy said America was not so much a democracy as a huge 
commercial company for the discovery, cultivation, and capitaliza- 
tion of her vast territory of prairies, forests, and waste lands. 2 These 
two observers like many others have sensed not any peculiar genius 
of American people but the adjustment of European culture to 
the geography of the wilderness. It was the special task of Fred- 
erick Jackson Turner to present this interpretation of our society 
to the consideration of American historians. 

The frontier is the initial stage in the settlement of new regions 
by representatives of more populous and advanced civilizations. 
Free land and virgin soils beckon large hordes of immigrants 
animated by motives of independence, escape, and adventure. 
With civilization behind and what we are pleased to call savagery 
before, the advancing pioneer belt is characterized by sparsity of 
population, self-sufficing economy, and a reversion to primitive 
modes of living. 3 In words of singular force and charm Turner 
has sketched the temporary triumph of geography: 

1 Thomas Galley Gratton, Civilized America, I, 6. Quoted in Kevins, American 
Social History Viewed by English Travellers, p. 249. 

8 Quoted by F. J. Turner, The Frontier in American History, p. 211. 

8 In R. T. Ely, et al., Foundation of National Economy, R. H. Hess discusses 
the economy of the frontier, pp. 100-8. 



The wilderness masters the colonist. It finds him a European in dress, 
industries, tools and modes of travel and thought. It takes him from 
the railroad car and puts him in the birch canoe. It strips off the 
garments of civilization and arrays him in the hunting shirt and 
mocassin. It puts him in the log cabin of the Cherokee and Iroquois and 
runs an Indian palisade around him. Before long he has gone to plant- 
ing Indian corn and plowing with a sharp stick; he shouts the war 
cry and takes the scalp in orthodox Indian fashion. In short at the 
frontier the environment is at first too strong for the man. He must 
accept the conditions which it furnishes or perish, and so he fits him- 
self into the Indian clearings and follows the Indian trails. Little by 
little he transforms the wilderness, but the outcome is not the old 
Europe. . . . The fact is that here is a new product that is American. 4 

The Indian was not the frontier, he was an element in it. 
The Indian as a man was often a barrier in the settlers' advance 
across the map; his culture and techniques were aids. If the man 
as a hinderance has often been overestimated, his culture as an 
aid has more often been underestimated. And his culture was 
of the forest. That it was crude goes without saying, but that 
the culture of the white man who took his place became of ne- 
cessity crude is equally true. Sparsity of settlement, with the 
wilderness arrayed against man in what appeared overwhelming 
odds, is the characteristic of the frontier. The United States Census 
adopted this measure as an arbitrary index of the frontier and 
drew the line of the frontier at a density of six persons per square 

The frontier took the culture patterns of a complex civilization 
and pruned and trimmed them to fit nature, open and undisguised. 
Man's modes of behavior thus underwent a forest-change, strange 
and yet natural. For it must be remembered that the folkways of 
the frontier were not only adjustments to conditions of crude 
culture, they were also expressions of human nature. Rough and 
tumble fighting was, it is true, the kind of fighting required for 
survival against Indians and rough men in an area of sparse 
settlement and magnificent distances, but it also served as outlet 
for impulses possessed by us all. A burly westerner who was 
"churched" for fighting showed an unrepentant face to his deacon- 
judges when they threatened him with civil prosecution and im- 

4 Turner, op. cit., p. 4. 


prisonment. "I don't want freedom," he is said to have replied 
bitterly, "I don't even want to live if I can't knock down a man 
who calls me a liar." 5 


In the popular mind the distinctive culture traits of the South 
are supposed to have been received as heritages from the planta- 
tion. The plantation in many respects developed a cultural super- 
structure at once complex and enlightened. It must be remem- 
bered, however, that the plantation throughout its existence re- 
mained in contact with the frontier, and, though it may in places 
have overcome and fused with the frontier, at no time did the 
plantation system wipe it out. The highly urbane types supposed 
to be characteristic of the plantation society are thus confronted 
by crude types characteristic of the frontier. Thus has arisen 
the popular paradox that the South is at once the most crude 
and the most courtly, the most promising, the most provincial, 
and the most backward area in the United States. 

The South being the section the least urban and industrialized, 
its habits of rural life make up a comparatively large part of its 
culture. Rural life of today has received the heritages of the 
frontier. Moreover, its conditions strikingly partake of the nature 
of the frontier. Both agriculture and the frontier separate people 
spatially, leaving a population of low density; both bring them 
into close contact with wilful nature and set them at primitive 
tasks. 6 In both the frontier and the farm these primitive tasks 
are many and varied; for them there has developed no division 
of labor, no specialization, and no elaborate technology. Accord- 
ingly the farmer and the pioneer are jacks of all trades; they are 
suspicious of innovations and of experts. They believed in the 
good old phrase that a fool can put on his coat better than a< wise 
man can do it for him. Just as the pioneer is by nature and neces- 
sity independent, the farmer is an individualist and a conservative, 
steeped in routine. A child of pioneer-farmer parents has written: 

My father and mother were pioneers and I know that they had a sort 
of stubborn pride in doing things and meeting emergencies in their 
own way, perhaps because they had survived the test of a time when they 

5 A. B. Hulbert, The Paths of Inland Commerce, p. 87. 

6 A. O. Craven, Soil Exhaustion, as Factor in the Agricultural History of Vir- 
ginia and Maryland, 1606-1860, University of Illinois Studies, XIII, 23-24. 


had to rely upon themselves. ... In later times when the country 
was settled, they still took pride in following their own peculiar methods, 
when it would have been easier and less expensive to seek the advice 
and experience of others. 7 

What in the individual persists as habit, in society remains as 
cultural survivals. The farmer is notoriously a conservative and 
agriculture a custom-ridden occupation. "Crops unsuited to the 
soils, poor tools and destructive methods are continued long after 
profits have ceased and the outside forces which compelled them 
in the beginning no longer operate." 8 Bronislaw Malinowski has 
advanced the view that no trait of culture persists as a survival 
unless it serves some functional purpose in society. Man, how- 
ever, does not live by logic alone nor do all the logics of men 
agree. Something must be left to the slow flow of time and the 
reverence for tradition. Cultural change has never been so uniform 
that some parts of our culture were not left behind in the transition. 
The transition between the frontier and agriculture with the 
cultural lag of coon hunting can be easily detected in this com- 
plaining comment on the state of affairs in early Missouri: 

Until our people are educated up to the point where they can value 
a sheep higher than a dog and agriculture and manufactures better 
than opossum and coon hunting, I suppose our annual crops of nutri- 
tious grains will grow to waste their fragrance on the desert air, and 
our rapid streams send their babbling waters to cool the mean whiskey 
instead of making cheap clothing for our ragged people. 9 


It is hardly possible, however, to write of the frontier in the 
South as a timeless, dateless entity. As it fled before advancing 
density of population the frontier changed its character. It is 
possible to hold with some that the southern frontier passed through 
three stages characterized by the woods rover, the cattle raiser, and 
the farmer, and was merging into the fourth, the plantation, at 
the outbreak of the Civil War. The advancing fringe of the 
frontier as it penetrated the wilderness was furnished by the Indian 
Trader. Drab, bold, mercenary, adventurous, he spied out the 

7 A. H. Sanford, Story of American Agriculture, p. 283. 

8 A. O. Craven, op. tit., p. 24. 

9 First Annual Agricultural Report, Missouri, appendix, p. 59. 


land, charted the wilderness, and planted in the breasts of savages 
the passion for the fruits, good and evil, of civilization. Lacking 
the trader's access to Indian society the long hunter followed 
close behind. Next came the rangers and ranchers of the cane- 
brakes and cowpens, herders of cattle and drovers of hogs; more 
permanently attached to one spot, they furnished the first bar- 
riers against the Indians and paved the way for the incoming 
small farmer. 10 The farming system, however, formed the back- 
bone of the frontier. Existing in contact with the plantation it 
gave tone to the whole South. Carl O. Sauer, among others, has 
suggested a more realistic view of the problem of frontier suc- 
cession : 

Apart from its essential self-sufficiency, the economy of the frontier 
showed considerable diversity according to time and place. Cultural 
succession is not uniform; the hunter followed by the stock raiser who 
in turn gave way to the farmer is a myth. 11 

In the Kentucky Bluegrass, Sauer is able to show that the first 
settlers were frontier farmers who became increasingly interested 
in grazing until the pressure of population caused a partial re- 
placement of live stock by other interests. The Kentucky frontier 
developed cattle grazing on the plains, the foraging of hogs in the 
woods, tobacco patches in new forest clearings, and corn patches 
in the old. 12 

Following the lead offered in Peck's New Guide to the West, 
published in 1837, Turner has seen the farmers' advance on the 
frontier as a series of waves. 

First comes the pioneer who depends for the subsistence of the family 
chiefly upon the natural growth of vegetation called the range and the 
proceeds of hunting. A squatter with a horse, cow, and one or two 
breeders of swine he strikes into the woods with his family and becomes 
the founder of a new county or perhaps state. He builds his cabin, 
gathers around him a few other families of similar tastes and habits 
and occupies till the range is somewhat subdued and hunting a little 
precious, or what is more frequently the case, till the neighbors crowd 
around, roads, bridges, and fields annoy him and he lacks elbow room. 

10 Archibald Henderson's The Conquest of the Old Southwest gives an illumi- 
nating interpretation. 

11 Geography of the Pennyroyal, p. 137. 

12 Ibid., pp. 137-39. 


Then he sells his cabin and clearing to the next -immigrant and breaks 

for high timber. 

The next class of immigrants purchase the land, add field to field, clear 
out the roads, throw rough bridges over the streams, put up hewn log 
houses with glass windows and brick or stone chimneys, occasionally 
plant orchards, build mills, school houses, court houses, etc. and exhibit 
the picture of plain, frugal, civilized life. 

Another wave rolls on. The men of capital and enterprize come. The 
settler is ready to sell out and take advantage of the rise in property 
and push farther into the interior and become himself a man of capital 
and enterprize in turn. 

A portion of the first two classes remain stationary amidst the general 
movement, improve their habits and rise in the scale of society. 13 

Going out as an advance guard of the back settlements the 
frontier fringe formed a "buffer state" against the Indians. If 
such a situation induced combativeness, its isolation also made for 
a domestic economy in which every man was a jack of all trades. 
That men might thrive under such conditions was shown by 
the comment in 1765 of a French traveler viewing a Roanoke River 
settlement in North Carolina: 

. . . the lands back of the first of mountains, what they Commonly 
Call the blue ridge, are very rich, they are Inhabited by the scotch 
Irish, Germans, and Dutch, which were sent thither to Serve as a 
bariere betwixt the lower seders and the Indians; this, however, turned 
out otherwise, lucily for the poor wretches, that were sent there to be 
butchered; necessity, and the great Distance from any seaport, or town, 
obliged them to be industrious in riseing all their necessaries within 
themselves, and at the same time to be watchful of the Indians and 
secure their little habitations with palisadoes and out works; the Soil 
answered beyond their Expectations, in So much that it is at present 
the plentifulest part of America. They have all sorts of Catle, grain, 
roots, and fruits buter, Chees, and beer, of their own brewing, they 
manufacture their own aparel and have Everything In short, Except salt 
and Iron: they Drive great Droves of Catle to the lower setlements, 
also butter, Chees and hemp which they Dispose of to advantage and a 
Considerable quantity of flower. 14 

u Turner, The Frontier in American History, pp. 19-21. 
" American Historical Review, XXVI, 737. 



Regardless of the stages in the pioneer advance the underlying 
traits characteristic of the frontier make a coherent picture. Be- 
cause of the scarcity of labor and the crude homemade utensils, the 
frontier farmer and his family were obliged to become accustomed 
to the hardest kind of manual labor. The Reverend John Urm- 
stone, writing from North Carolina in 1711, indicated the self- 
dependence in manual tasks required of frontier industry. 

Workmen are dear and scarce. I have about a dozen acres of clear 
grounds and the rest woods, in all three hundred acres. Had I ser- 
vants and money I might live very comfortably upon it. ... 

I am forced to work hard with ox, hoe, and spade. I have not a stick 
to burn for any use but what I cut down with my own hands. I am 
forced to dig a garden, raise beans, peas, etc., with the assistance of a 
sorry wench my wife brought with her from England. 

Men are generally of all trades, . . . carpenters, joiners, wheelwrights, 
coopers, butchers, tanners, shoemakers, tallow-chandlers, watermen, and 
what not; women, soap-makers, starch-makers, dyers, etc. He or she 
that cannot do all these things, or hath not slaves that can over and 
above all the common occupations of both sexes, will have but a bad 
time of it; for help is not to be had at any rate everyone having business 
enough of his own. This makes tradesmen turn planters, and these 
become tradesmen. There exists no society one with another when 
all study and live by their own hands of their own produce: and what 
they can spare, goes for foreign goods. 15 

The work routine of women on the frontier was likely to be 
even more devoted to manual toil. The utensils of the housewife 
were cruder and her day was long. A typical day has been thus 
described : 

She "unkivered" the coals which had been smothered in the ashes the 
night before to be kept alive till morning and with kindling in one 
hand and a live coal held in the tines of a fork or between iron tongs 
in the other she blew and blew and blew until the splinters caught fire. 
Then the fire was started and the water brought from the spring, poured 
into the "kittle" and while it was heating and chickens were fed, the 
cows milked, the children dressed, the bread made, the bacon fried, 
and then coffee was made and the breakfast was ready. That over, and 

"From F. L. Hawks, History of North Carolina, II, 215-16, quoted by Phillips, 
Plantation and Frontier, II, 271-72. 


the dishes washed and put away, the spinning wheel, the loom, or the 
reel were the next to have attention. Meanwhile keeping a sharp lookout 
for the children and the hawks, keeping the chickens out of the garden, 
sweeping the floor, making the beds, churning, sewing, darning, wash- 
ing, ironing, taking up the ashes and making lye, watching for the bees 
to swarm, keeping the cat out of the milkpans, dosing the sick children, 
tying up the hurt ringers and toes, kissing the sore places well again, 
making soap, robbing the bee hives, stringing beans for winter use, 
working the garden, planting and tending a few hardy blossoms in the 
front yard. . . . getting dinner, darning, patching, mending, milking 
again, reading the Bible, prayers, and so on from morning till night and 
then all over again the next day. It could never have been said of them 
that they had fed on roses and lain in the lilies of life. 16 

If the hunting-shirt, the leggings, the waggoner's frock, the 
leather breeches and moccasin borrowed from the Indians made 
picturesque garb for the frontiersman, it is to be doubted that the 
region did as well for woman's attire. 

The women wore linsey [flax] petticoats and bed gowns [like a 
dressingsack] and often went without shoes in the summer. Some 
had bonnets and bed-gowns made of calico, but generally linsey; and 
some of them wore men's hats. Their hair was commonly clubbed. 
Once at a large meeting I noticed there were but two women that had 
on long gowns. One of them was laced genteely, and the body of the 
other was open and the tail thereof drawn up and tucked in her apron 
or coat-string. 17 

The dwellings which housed the family were equally an 
adaptation to the frontier. Log-pens were built in squares with 
a plastering of clay, a dirt floor, one door, possibly the luxury of a 
window and the ubiquitous smoking chimney. In dread of hostile 
Indians these cabins were arranged in clusters and surrounded by 
stockades. Monette writes of the frontier habitations in the Mis- 
sissippi Valley: 

The inside appearance of a frontier habitation was also unique and 
adapted to the circumstances of the times. . . . The whole furniture 
of a home consisted of one home-made bedstead and one trundle bed 
under it for children, both well furnished with bear-skins and buffalo 

" John P. Arthur, Western North Carolina, 1730-1913, p. 256. 
17 Unpublished MSS. "In the Older Time" by General William Lenoir. Cited 
by Archibald Henderson, op. cit., p. 41. 


robes instead of blankets: a few split bottom chairs, and a few three- 
legged stools, a small movable bench or table, supported by two pairs 
of crosslegs for the family meals; a shelf and water-bucket near the door. 
The naked wood and clay walls, instead of the ornamental paper and 
tapestry of the cities, were embellished with the whole wealth of the 
family wardrobe. The frocks, dresses and bedgowns of the women, the 
hunting-shirts, pantaloons and arms of the men, all were suspended 
around the walls from wooden hooks and pegs, and served as a good 
index to the industry and neatness of the mistress of the house. The 
cooking utensils and table furniture consisted of a few iron pots, 
"pewter plates and dishes," spoons, knives and forks which had been 
transported from the east with their salt and iron; besides these, a few 
wooden bowls or "trenchers," "noggins and gourds," completed the list 
of cooking utensils. ... As soon as the mechanic and merchant appeared, 
sashes with two or four lights of glass might be seen set into gaps cut 
through the side logs. Contemporaneously, old barrels began to consti- 
tute the tops of chimneys, and joists and planks sawed by hand, too, 
the place of puncheons. 18 

The very organization of the industrial routine and the sim- 
plicity of habitation on the frontier farm made it a fostering hab- 
itat of the family. Out of its domestic economy came the rapid and 
easy growth of the family. W. B. Weeden writes of the early New 
England family in terms that can be easily applied to the South: 

The common people created self-sustaining families as readily as the 
banyan tree spreads a growth around the parent trunk. New land was 
easily obtained. A thrifty farmer could buy acres enough on which to 
settle his sons from the savings of a few years. The axe could create 
the log house anywhere and in most places sawmills gave a cheap supply 
of planks and deals. The splitting of shingles was an accomplishment 
almost as common as whittling. The practice of making this cheap 
and excellent roofing material was carried into the middle states by 
the New England emigrants. The homestead was often given to the 
younger son who provided for the parents in their old age, the elder 
brothers having acquired settlements of their own. Thus the teeming 
social soil was ready for the family roots which were constantly extend- 
ing. Unmarried men of thirty were rare in country towns. Matrons 
were grandmothers at forty; mother and daughter frequently nursed 
their children at the same time. Father, son, and grandson often 
worked together in one field and that field was their own. 19 

"John Wesley Monette, Valley of the Mississippi, II, 6. 

18 Economic and Social History of New England, 1620-1879, II, 860. 


No immigrant went to the frontier for ease and idleness. "The 
climate was trying; fever was common; the crops ran new risks 
from strange insects, drought, and violent weather; the weeds were 
annoying; the flies and mosquitoes tormented him and his cattle." 20 
There existed in a phrase, a frontier without soap with "nothing 
clean but birds, nothing industrious but pigs, and nothing happy 
but squirrels." 21 

The chance of being shot or scalped by the Indians was hardly worth 
considering when compared with the certainty of malarial fever, or the 
strange disease called milk sickness, or the still more distressing home- 
sickness, or the misery of nervous prostration which wore out gener- 
ation after generation of women and children on the frontier and left a 
tragedy in every log cabin. Not for love of ease did men plunge into 
the wilderness. Few laborers endured a harder lot, coarser fare or 
anxieties and responsibilities greater than those of the western emigrant. 
Not merely because he enjoyed the luxury of salt pork, whiskey, or even 
coffee three times a day did the American laborer claim superiority over 
the European. 22 

It was in this crude labor expended in the exploitation of the 
frontier that Henry Adams saw the spirit of the frontier, a spirit 
that strangely perturbed his sensitive mind: 

From Lake Erie to Florida, in a long unbroken line pioneers were at 
work, cutting into the forest with the energy of beavers and with no 
more express moral purpose than the beavers they drove away. The 
civilization they carried with them was rarely illumined by an idea; 
they sought room for no new truth and aimed neither at creating like 
the Puritans a government of saints nor like the Quakers, one of love 
and peace; they left such experiments behind them and wrestled only 
with the hardest problems of frontier life. To a new society, ignorant 
and semi-barbarous, a mass of demagogues insisted on applying every 
stimulant that could inflame its worst appetites, while at the same time 
taking away every influence that had hitherto helped to restrain its 
passions, greed for wealth, lust for power, yearning for the blank void 
of savage freedom such as Indians and wolves delighted in these were 
the fires that flamed under the caldron of American society. 23 

30 Henry Adams, History of the United States, I, 57-59. 
81 A. B. Hulbcrt, Paths of Inland Commerce, p. 87. 

1 Henry Adams, op. cit., I, 58-59. 
Ibid., I. 177-78. 


The frontier was not all individualism and competition in ex- 
ploitation of the wilderness. Out of family and kinship group- 
ings, out of the very hardships and crude contacts of the pioneer 
belts grew spontaneous associations and methods of cooperation. 
Informal combinations, extra-legal and voluntary associations, im- 
pressed, because of their number and great variety, all of the early 
travelers to the United States. "The log rolling, the house raising, 
the husking bee, the apple paring, and the squatters' association 
whereby they protected themselves against the speculators in se- 
curing title to their clearings on the public domain, the camp 
meeting, the mining camp, the Vigilantes, the cattle raisers' asso- 
ciations, the gentlemen's agreements are a few of the indications 
of this attitude." 24 

Closely related to these attitudes is the trait of hospitality, a 
sort of mutual aid associated with a low density of population. 
A companion trait was frontier inquisitiveness. Not only is the 
granting of shelter to travelers a much more desirable practice in 
regions of sparse settlements but the contacts furnished by these 
travelers possess greater social value. On the frontier the hospitality 
of the home places put scant demands upon the larder and the 
regimen. There is but one fare, plain fare, and host and guest 
alike accept it. In sparsely populated areas of the South where the 
plantation had displaced the frontier the passion for hospitality was 
equally great. 

So put to it for companionship were Virginia planters of 1800 that 
one plan was to send the Negroes round at nightfall to the nearest inn 
with a note to any lady or gentleman putting up there stating that if 

they did not like their accommodations, Mr. would be happy 

to see them at his house close by, to which the black with a lantern 
would conduct them. In the morning the planter remunerated the 
landlord for any loss he may have suffered in the removal of a guest. 
John Bernard, the clever English actor who played in America, re- 
counted another more drastic plan. Reclining in a wagon, dressed 
in a suit for bathing and surrounded by rifles, fishing tackle, bottles 
and obedient blacks, the planter was driven into the nearest ford. There 
by the aid of his slaves he combined the four enjoyments of bathing, 
fishing, shooting, and drinking with waiting for a guest. If at length 
the form of a stranger appeared, he sprang from his plank and shouted 

24 Turner, op. cit., p. 343. 


an invitation to alight and take a drop of something sociable. If the 
traveller refused up went the rifle to the shoulder and compliance was 
demanded in the tone of a European footpad. If the stranger yielded 
he might find himself carted to the mansion and there beset with 
nog, flip, sling, and toddy until he was lucky to escape by any des- 
perate device. Bernard relates with relish how such a hospitable 
planter once caught as involuntary guest a New England preacher on 
a tour against slavery and was compelled to listen to an all night com- 
parison between himself and Beelzebub. 25 

Personality no less than occupational types represents adjust- 
ments to the frontier folkways and modus vivendi. Such were 
those traders, the coureurs des bois, "half peddlers and half hunters 
with a little finish of the broker." Through their agency the goods 
imported from France were pushed from New Orleans "into the 
most remote settlements of the country and the Indian villages and 
exchanged for the production of the country." Long after the 
trade vanished decrepit men of that class, crippled, frost bitten, and 
old were found to retain a singular predilection for that wandering 
half savage life, still dressing in skins with leggings and moccasins. 26 

The pack-horse trade supplied the needs of the frontier settle- 
ments for guns, ammunition, knives, blankets, tobacco, hatchets, 
and liquor. The West sent to the East, "in addition to skins and 
pelts, whiskey that brought a dollar a gallon. Each pony could 
carry sixteen gallons and every drop could be sold for real money. 
On the return trip the pack-horses carried back chiefly salt and 
iron." 27 A passage from Doddridge's Notes best describes this 
trade : 

In the fall of the year, after seeding time, every family formed an asso- 
ciation with some of their neighbors, for starting the little caravan. A 
master driver was to be selected from among them, who was to be 
assisted by one or more young men and sometimes a boy or two. The 
horses were fitted out with packsaddles, to the latter part of which was 
fastened a pair of hobbles made of hickory withes a bell and collar 
ornamented their necks. The bags provided for the conveyance of the salt 
were fitted with bread, jerked, boiled ham and cheese [which] furnished 
a provision for the drivers. At night after feeding the horses, whether 

85 John Bernard, "Retrospections of America," quoted by Allen Nevins, American 
Social History as Viewed by British Travellers, pp. 38-40. 
28 De Bow, Industrial Resources of the South, I, 411. 
27 A. B. Hulbert, Paths of Inland Commerce, p. 27. 


put in pasture or turned out into the woods, were hobbled and the 
bells opened. The barter for salt and iron was made first at Baltimore; 
Frederick, Hagerstown, Oldtown, and Fort Cumberland in succession 
became the places of exchange. Each horse carried two bushels of alum 
salt weighing eighty-four pounds to the bushel, but it was enough con- 
sidering the scanty subsistence allowed them on the journey. The 
common price of a bushel of alum salt at an early period, was a good 
cow and a calf. 28 

The river trade in the flatboat age about 1820 recruited another 
frontier type, "a lusty crew collected from the waning Indian trade 
and the disbanded pioneer armies." These river men of great 
strength, "alligator horses" as they called themselves, were rough 
in their work and their lives. Hulbert quotes the names and 
boasts in which they delighted. The Snag, the Snapping Turtle, 
the Salt River Roarer, "the very infant that turned from his 
mother's breast and called out for a bottle of old rye." "One squint 
of his eye would blister a bull's heel." He was a "genuwine double 
acting engine, can out-run, out-swim, chaw more tobacco and spit 
less, drink more whisky and keep soberer than any man in these 
localities." 29 


The distinction between the frontier farm and the plantation 
as economic units has been clearly drawn by U. B. Phillips. 30 On 
the southern farm the laboring force was small, the devotion to 
staples was not marked, and a less regular routine was followed 
than on the plantation. Frontier industry furnished neither em- 
ployers nor employees of labor; agriculture was often pursued as a 
side line for the production of certain necessities while the main 
business of life was hunting or Indian trading. The conflict of the 
system with the more stable and compactly organized plantation 
was inevitable. 

The plantation followed after the frontier and located upon 
the central fertile lands. From these lands, "delta," "basins," river 
bottoms, black belts, and bluegrass as areas of dominance the 
planter societies organized the surrounding frontier zones. The 
process was well known; the explanation difficult. "The passage 

28 Quoted in Hulbert, ibid., pp. 27-28. 

"Ibid., p. 71. 

30 Plantation and Frontier, I, 72-73. 


of the years," writes Phillips, "witnessed a systemizing process in 
the cotton belt, and in some measure a segregating process which 
put the planters in control of most of the fertile and accessible 
areas." 31 The white population of the district, says a writer in 
DeBow's Review, divides into three parts: One part, consisting of 
a few slaveholders, obtains possession of all the valuable cotton 
lands and monopolizes for a few white families all the advantages 
of the cotton demand. A second part removes with its slaves, if 
it possesses any, from the district, while a third continues to occupy 
the sandhills or sometimes perhaps takes possession of the ex- 
hausted land which has been vacated by the large planters because 
they, with all their superior skill and advantages of capital, could 
not cultivate it with profit. This last class remains ignorant of 
all luxury, having no higher aim than to procure the bare means 
of subsistence. 32 

It is on Frederick Law Olmsted, perhaps the most observant 
of all travelers in America, that we have to depend for pictures of 
this changing scene. The following description from a place in 
Louisiana on the Texas Route in the fifties shows the plantation in 
full possession with a lazy ebb of the frontier: 

The plantations occur, perhaps, at an average distance of three to four 
miles. Most of the remaining inhabitants live chiefly, to appearances, 
by fleecing emigrants. Every shanty sells spirits and takes in travellers. 
Every plantation has its sign, offering provender for sale generally curi- 
ously worded or spelled, as 'Corn Heare." We passed through but one 
village, which consisted of six dwellings. The families obtained their 
livelihood by the following occupations: one by shoeing the horses of 
emigrants; one by repairing the wheels of their wagons; one by selling 
them groceries. The smallest cabin contained a physician. It was not 
larger than a good sized medicine chest but had the biggest sign. The 
others advertised "corn and fodder." The prices charged for any article 
sold or service performed were enormous, full one hundred per cent 
over those of New Orleans. 33 

In the processes of competition the farm on the southern frontier 
seemed fated to yield possession of all fertile cotton lands to the 

* Ibid., I, 86. 

M De Bow's Review, XVIII, 79. Quoted by Olmsted, Journey in the Eac\ Coun- 
try, p. 310. 

** Olmsted, A Journey Through Texas, p. 62. 


advancing plantation. Many observers saw in this ever recurring 
fact a proof of the superiority of Negro labor over white workers 
in the semi-torrid climate of the South. Olmsted speculating on 
the chances of the plantation replacing the farm system of the hard- 
working German immigrant, laid it to the economies of large scale 
production practiced by the planter. 

The planter was likely to win, due to the fact that his expenses for 
fencing on account of his larger fields and larger estate are several 
hundred per cent less than those of the farmer; to the fact that his 
expenses for tillage, having mules and plows and other instruments to 
use at the opportune moment, are less than those of the farmer, who 
in many cases cannot afford to own a single team; to the fact that he 
has from experience a better knowledge of the most successful method 
of cultivation; to the fact that he has a gin and a press of his own in 
the midst of his cotton fields to which he can carry his wool at one 
transfer from the picking, by which he can put it in order for market 
expeditiously and at an expense much below that falling upon the 
farmer, who must first store his wool, then send it to the planters' 
gin and press and having it prepared at the planters' convenience, paying 
perhaps exorbitantly therefor; and finally to the fact that the planter 
deals directly with the exporter, while the farmer, the whole profit of 
whose crop would not pay his expenses on a journey to the coast, must 
transfer his bale or two to the exporter through two or three middle 
men, carrying it one bale at a time, to the local purchaser. 34 

This is an explanation in the economist's terms of available capital 
and low overhead costs. 

It cannot be denied that the two systems remained pretty much 
in conflict wherever found together. It was the desire of every 
planter, thought Olmsted, to get possession of the land of any 
poor non-slaveholding neighbor. 35 The ideal plantation was both 
large and isolated. As a Louisiana planter explained it to Olmsted 
the representative of a hangover frontier farm system had a bad 
effect upon the discipline of the plantation laborers. The contrast 
between the small farmer, "most of the time idle, and when work- 
ing, working only for their own benefit and without a master- 
constantly offered suggestions and temptations to the slaves to 
neglect their duty and to run away." In some places low grog 
shops, owned by poor whites, grew up in which Negroes might 

34 Olmsted, Journey in the Eac\ Country, pp. 350-51. 

35 Ibid., pp. 449-50. 


exchange chickens or a pig for spirits and no questions asked. I 
slavery tended to make an aristocracy out of the frontier, one of its 
concomitants was an habitual irritation which the planter could 
hardly escape feeling toward the lingering representatives of the 

The plantation forced new westward marches of the frontier. 
The profitable crops, with the exception of sugar and rice, were 
those which exhausted the soil most quickly; the plantation had to 
expand to live. Before the day of fertilization there were no 
hopes of growing continuous crops of tobacco and cotton on the 
same tract. Lincoln's mild compromise to leave slavery where 
it existed appeared in reality a threat of extinction. 36 Wherever 
the plantation expanded it sent forward the frontiersman as its 
advance guard. Many of the pioneers locating their frontier farms 
on fertile soil were no doubt able to extend them into plantations. 
As cotton and the plantation advanced upon the back country, 
says F. J. Turner, free farmers were forced "either to change to 
the plantation economy and buy slaves or to sell their land and 
migrate." 37 Many in upland areas resisted this compulsion and re- 
mained as yeoman farmers in a plantation society. Religious beliefs 
and agricultural habits made the change to slavery distasteful to 
many. An advance guard of the frontier whom Sir Charles Lyell 
met was, it is possible, fated to become the progenitor of a dynasty 
of planters. 

At one turn of the road, in the midst of the wood, we met a 
man with a rifle, carrying in his hand an empty pail for giving water 
to his horse, and followed at a short distance by his wife, leading a 
steed, on which was a small sack. "It probably contains," said our 
companions, "all their worldly goods; they are movers, and have their 
faces turned westward, a small detachment of that great army of emi- 
grants, which is steadily moving on every year toward the Rocky 
Mountains. This young married couple may perhaps go down to the 
Mississippi, and buy, for a few dollars, some acres of land, near a 
wooding station. The husband will fell timber, run up a log cabin, 
and receive ready money from the steamboats, which burn the wood. 
At the end of ten or fifteen years, by which time some of their children 

"Archer Butler Hulbert, Frontiers, p. 41. 
87 The Rise of the New West, p. 54. 


will have become profitable servants, they may have put by 2000 dollars, 
bought a farm, and be living in a frame-house. 38 

Throughout the period the frontier continued to offer escape from 
the all-encompassing plantation. 


When the dominant plantation areas were established they were 
likely to be surrounded both by zones of sturdy yeoman farmers 
and by "poor whites." The yeomanry, occupying the upland areas, 
pointed to the passing of the frontier stage. The ebb of the frontier 
remained in the "poor white." Not an example of biological 
depletion, he retained in a meager environment the crude culture 
of the frontier. Poverty, whiskey, malaria, inadequate diet, and 
poor health came to aggravate his existence. It is possible to map 
fairly accurately the region occupied by the so-called poor whites 
of the Old South. 39 The Pine Barrens of south central Georgia, 
surrounded by a tier of black belt counties, were shown by the 
Census of 1860 to be far behind the average South in value of land, 
houses, farm products, and live stock. Similarly, the pine woods of 
Mississippi, east of the Pearl River, were poor, and the people 
were known as "hill billies," "sand hillers" and "clay eaters." In 
the unproductive sand hills, stretching through North and South 
Carolina, in the pine woods and clay bottoms of Alabama and 
Florida were found isolated communities of poor illiterate peoples 
living on unfrequented roads. 

To De Tocqueville the influence of slavery united to the English 
character served to explain the manners and social conditions of 
the southern states. 40 In the South today it can safely be said that 
no flavor is stronger than that imparted by the frontier. No trait 
of the frontier can safely be neglected by the social historian as an 
antiquarian's item. The child born in the northern frontier would 
before its tenth year, Olmsted predicted, "be living in a well or- 
ganized and tolerably well provided community; schools, churches, 
libraries, lectures, and concert halls, daily mails and printing 
presses, shops and machines in variety, having arrived within at 
least a day's journey of it; being always within influencing distance 

88 Lyell's Travels in the United States, Second Visit, II, 205-6. 

89 See article of that title by P. H. Buck in American Historical Review, XXX, 


40 De Tocqueville, Democracy in America, I, 36. 


of it." 41 Whether or not the instance proved Olmsted's optimism 
justified, the frontier did not recede so quickly in the South. 

When it did recede it gave way to a rural society which con- 
tains many elements in common with the frontier. 

The frontier is transitional: hunter, fur trader, Indian fighter, freighter, 
prospector, scout, river pilot, lumberjack, stagecoach driver, cowboy have 
their day; and the farmer survives. The last of the pioneers holds fast 
to the earth; the vanguard of the conquest is gone and the army of 
occupation is entrenched. 42 

The South still possesses the largest number of practically self- 
sufficing farms to be found in any comparable area in the nation. 
Its rural life is characterized by isolated farmsteads in the open 
country. If southern conditions of living have often appeared crude 
to the critics, it is for the reason that they have retained not only 
the usages but often the conditions of the frontier. More than 
any other section except the sparsely settled western range it has 
remained a pioneer belt, and the common man living in the open 
county faces much the same situation with the cultural heritage 
left by the frontier. While they were formative the folkways of 
the South got the stamp of the frontier. From the frontier, part 
of the area passed to the plantation, but the plantation area retained 
many of the frontier traits. Institutions and customs are still 
tinged with the shades of the forest, whether as survivals or as 
adjustments to ruralism. 

41 A Journey in the Bac\ Country, p. 414. 
42 E. Douglass Branch, Westward, p. 593. 



To THE human geographer the soils of the United States should 
possess special interest. In Europe one hardly knows when or how 
the soil was first used and accordingly many of the lessons o a 
beginning agriculture are lost. We have here, however, the trans- 
plantation of a previously developed agriculture to a soil prepared 
by nature and left largely untilled for centuries. N. S. Shaler has 
well said that American agriculture has been conditioned by the 
"possession of a virgin soil, of fields in which the natural processes 
had for ages been accumulating the stores of nutriment which 
the crops remove. So far our agriculture has rested almost al- 
together upon these ancient accumulations of fertility. By a swift 
and unending process of tillage we have been gathering in this 
harvest and sending the products away to foreign lands." 1 

Because the natural fertility of land, stored by long geological 
processes, had remained unexhausted by planting, the differences 
in fertility of various regions were not so soon discovered by the 
early settlers. The test of the soil came when a series of crops had 
been planted. Of the two important new crops tobacco rather 
than corn had the quality of first affecting the fertility of the soil. 
Patrick Sheriff in his Tour Through North America held that 
Indian corn had a peculiar trait in that it was capable of being 
grown for several years on the same land without the application 
of fertilizer. 2 This gave rise to unfounded hopes in the breasts of 
early settlers that their soils possessed an inexhaustible fertility. 
The experience of the eastern cotton and tobacco belts with soil 
exhaustion and of the highland and plateau regions with erosion can 
be examined to show how baseless were these hopes. 

"Human civilization," C. F. Marbut points out, "has not en- 

1 United States of America, I, 401. 

2 Published in Edinburgh, 1853, p. 394- Cited by Jane Louise Mesick, America 
as Viewed by British Travellers, 1785-1835, p. 153. 



dured for 1 a sufficient length of time to enable us to trace the de- 
velopment of the soil on any one spot from infancy, through 
youth, to maturity, much less to old age." s Man's occupancy of 
the soil, however, has enabled him to point out cycles in the develop- 
ment of fertility the most important soil quality. For the pur- 
poses of society the materials from which soils originate, the proc- 
esses by which they develop, and the structure which they attain 
must coalesce in fertility. The presence of soil fertility has been 
especially related to social factors in an area like the South. "In 
regions where there is little mining, manufacturing, fishing, or 
foreign commerce, the population gets its living pretty directly 
from the soil, whether through lumbering, grazing, or raising crops, 
the number of inhabitants is pretty closely correlated with soil 
fertility." 4 


The main constituents determining the fertility of a soil are 
its levelness, depth, fineness, mellowness, and amount of available 
plant food. How level and how deep any given soil region is 
found to be, results mainly from its development in a physiographic 
region. A soil is mellow if it can be broken with ease. Its fineness 
and mellowness depend on the kind of rock from which the soil 
was formed. The amount of plant food available is determined 
largely by soil origin and the part the climate plays in the process 
of the disintegration of plants. 

From the standpoint of agriculture the structure of the soil is its 
most important quality. Soils with poor structure are hard and 
refractory to cultivate when dry, and plastic but intractable when 
wet. The lack of plant foods in soils of favorable texture may be 
remedied by fertilization. 5 With the exception of certain mineral 
constituents, most of the body of plants are drawn from water and 
the atmosphere. It is the texture of the soil that determines both its 
adaptability to tillage and the circulation of water. Water, which 
the soil retains by absorption and surface attraction even to 10 to 20 
per cent of its own weight, clings to the surface of soil particles as 
an envelope, and thus tends to distribute itself evenly throughout 

3 In H. L. Shantz and C. F. Marbut, The Vegetation and Soils of Africa, p. 129. 

4 R. M. Harper, "Resources of Southern Alabama," Alabama Geological Survey, 
Special Report No. n, p. 17. 

5 Louis A. Wolfanger, "Major World Soil Groups and Some of Their Geographic 
Implications," Geographical Review, XIX, 95. 


a uniform texture. If wilting is to be prevented, water must be 
supplied to plants as fast as it is lost. The rate of supply of soil 
water is simply the speed at which water can move in the soil. 
This is a function of the texture of soil particles and the structure 
into which they have coalesced. 

By mechanical analysis in the laboratory, soil particles can be 
classified according to size, and each type of particle shown to 
fill a definite function in soil structure. 6 The following measure- 
ments are standard in Great Britain: 

Fine gravel above i mm. in diameter 

Coarse sand i to 0.2 mm. 

Fine sand 0.2 to 0.4 mm. 

Silt 0.4 to o.oi mm. 

Fine silt 01 to .002 mm. 

Clay below .002 mm. 

No element in the soil is "more necessary in proper proportions 
or more harmful in excess" than clay. It acts as a plastic colloid 
in the presence of water and its adhesive properties bind the soil 
together. "Soil without clay would be very much like a sand 
heap." Clay impedes the movements of air and water in the 
soil and serves to keep water layers within reach of plant roots. 
Coarse sand on the other hand keeps the soil open and tillable and 
increases drainage. As the amount of sand increases beyond this 
point of moderate drainage and evaporation the soil becomes less 
suited to cultivation. The fine silts and sand ranges in function 
somewhere between the clays and the coarse sands. Fine gravel 
exaggerates the effect of sand in the soil. In addition decomposed 
plant residues become incorporated in the soil in the form of 
humus. This complex mixture possesses the property of with- 
drawing ions from the soil; it swells when wetted and thus in- 
creases the water-holding capacity of soils. Unless replaced humus 
slowly disappears from the soil. 

How these various elements in the soil function together in 
promoting plant growth is well shown in Milton Whitney's anal- 
ogy of the soil as a living organism. 7 The structure of small rock 

This analysis of soil factors is from the work of Edward J. Russell in Soil Con- 
ditions and Plant Growth; pp. 53-113, cited in E. G. Nourse's Agricultural Eco- 
nomics, pp. 161-67. 

7 Soils and Civilization, pp. 27-33. 


fragments and the hard pan which serve as supporting walls fur- 
nish the skeleton of the soil. Soil colloids such as clay act as a 
coating to withdraw from active solution mineral, organic, and 
gaseous substances which otherwise would be readily washed out 
of the soil by rainfall. The processes of bacteria, enzymes, and 
oxidation which digest and break down organic debris in the soil 
may be said to make up its digestive system. The soil breathes 
frequently and deeply to depths of fifty feet and more, inter- 
changing its gaseous products with fresh air to bring about oxida- 
tion. In addition to this respiratory system the soil possesses a 
circulatory system by which waste products and nutrient materials 
are carried in solution through larger channels and soil capillaries. 
The way in which the various systems of the soil function together 
may be used to distinguish and describe various soil types. 


The story of the formation of soil patterns both in their internal 
structure and in the distribution of soil types in space as regions 
is one of the most fascinating topics with which the geographer 
has to deal. The soil is the product of original materials and 
natural processes which have arrived at a particular stage. Studies 
by Russian scientists of the great soil belts of their country have 
shown that, given time to arrive at maturity, soil areas tend to 
coincide with climatic regions. 

Soils are developed from soil material consisting of geological deposits 
of various kinds directly through the operation of climatic forces, of 
which rainfall seems the most important, and indirectly through the 
influence of native vegetation. The development is through the various 
stages of infancy, youth, maturity, and old age and can take place 
only when erosion is relatively inactive. The broad general charac- 
teristics of the soil at any time are due to the climate of the locality if 
the soil is mature. If the soil is immature it will be influenced by the 
nature of the geological formation and the immaturity may be due to 
the topography. 8 

Shale and sandstone, limestone and marl, crystalline rock and 
organic matter furnish the original materials of soil. By means 
of stream action, atmospheric reaction, weathering, glaciation, and 
plant growth the region's climate and rainfall reduce these mate- 

8 H. L. Shantz and C. F. Marbut, The Vegetation and Soils of Africa, pp. 128-29. 


rials to a texture fine enough for the formation of soil. The re- 
sulting product can then be classified on the basis of its specific 
properties such as color, natural drainage, content of organic mat- 
ter, of lime carbonate, of plant food, and the arrangement of the 
soil in sections. This last, called the soil profile, shows normally 
three divisions: the "A" horizon, the portion cultivated, the "B" 
horizon, the subsoil where soluble and unsoluble materials are 
deposited by seeping waters, and the "C" horizon, the un weathered 
or parent soil material. Swamp, muck, and desert soils are gen- 
erally found without profiles. A final classification of the soil as 
to texture is jmade on the basis of the size of the particles. The) 
following table makes clear the relation of physiographic region 
to climatic areas in the production of soils. 


I. Region Temperature 

II. Section Precipitation 

III. Province Agency of Formation 

IV. Group Kinds of Material 

V. Series Specific Properties 

1. Frigid 

2 . Temperate 

3 . Subtropical 

4. Tropical 

1. Humid 

2. Semiarid 

3. Arid 

1 . Weathering 

2. Biology a. Streams 

3. Water b. Lakes 

4. Atmosphere c. Ocean 

5 . Glaciation 

6. Gravity 

1 . Acid crystalline rock 

2. Basic crystalline rock 

3 . Shales and sandstone 

4. Limestone and marl 

5 . Organic matter 

1 . Color 

2. Natural Drainage 

3 . Content and condition of organic matter 

4 . Content of lime carbonate 

5 . Content of plant food 

6. Arrangement of soil in section 

VI. Class Texture 1. Size of particles. 

*From T. L. Lyon, E. O. Flippin, H. O. Buckman, Soils Their Properties and Management, p. 721. 

Soils range in stage from infancy and youth through maturity 
to old age. The nearer to maturity different geological formations 






,>, S C 


8 o."2 So' 

ti^ S bJ3 ( 



( E i- O u t) iJ 
- _H rt u r- u 3 
3 ra-OJ3t3 O.O 


come the more likely are they to be found crumbled together in 
great tracts of soil, possessing similar characteristics and correspond- 
ing to climatic belts. 9 Soils are thus mature when they show an 
absence of geological features and a great predominance of char- 
acteristics acquired by weathering and organic accumulations. This 
condition can be attained only on smooth surfaces where the soils 
have lain undisturbed for a long period of time. Soil on slopes 
may remain perpetually immature by having its upper cover .re- 
moved as rapidly as it advances in age. The influence of climatic 
zones and of topography on the development of soil belts will 
be of peculiar value in explaining certain areas in the South. 


The foregoing discussion has served to clear the ground for the 
presentation of the soil areas of the South on the basis, first of prov- 
inces of geological origin and, second, of zones of climatic maturity. 
By 1913 the United States Soil Survey 10 had mapped and described 
thirteen definite soil regions and provinces in this country. 


Estimated Area 
PROVINCE in Acres 


2. PIEDMONT PLATEAU 47,214,000 



5. RIVER FLOOD PLAINS 75,247,000 

6. GREAT PLAINS 331,968,000 

7. ARID SOUTHWEST 81,148,000 



10. GREAT BASIN 118,034,000 

11 . ROCKY MOUNTAIN 265 ,575 ,000 


13. PACIFIC COAST 109,180,000 

In the first five regions listed are found most of the soil tracts 
of the South. In addition a comparatively wide belt of loessial soils 
parallels the eastern bank of the Mississippi, and Western Texas 
encroaches on the Great Plains and Arid Southwest regions. 

The newer soil science restricts its classification to normally 
mature types. It seeks to make distinction, not on the basis of the 

9 Wolfanger, loc. cit., p. 100. 

10 C. F. Marbut, H. H. Bennett, J. E. and M. H. Lapham, "Soils of the United 
States," Bulletin 96, Bureau of Soils, Washington, 1913, p. 8. 


characteristics of the geological material from which the soil 
comes, but of the soil itself. Origin does not tell much of the agri- 
cultural properties of soil. For example, a residual soil formed 
from limestone does not necessarily contain any lime. The soils 
of the United States in this classification are divided into two 
major groups on the basis of whether or not they accumulate 
lime. 11 West of about the looth parallel of longitude are found 
the Pedocals, soils which accumulate in the "B" horizon a higher 
percentage of lime than is found in their parent materials. Sim- 
ilarly the eastern area of the Pedalfers is characterized by a pre- 
dominance of iron and alumina rather than lime in the subsoil. 
Except for the prairies which belong with the Pedalfers, the dis- 
tinction is roughly that between semi-arid western grass lands and 
humid eastern forest lands. The Pedocals are much more fertile 
but lacking rainfall are not so tillable. The following soil areas are 
found in the United States. Here the great bulk of the South 
falls in the red-and yellowerths which range through eleven states. 
The South possesses that fraction of the gray-brownerths which 
make up the limestone basins of Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. 
All the laterites may be found in Florida and South Georgia. The 
tall grass eastern sections of Oklahoma and Texas are prairyerths 
while their western areas are blackerths. 



1. Blackerths Subhumid: heavy grass cover 1. Podsols Cold-humid: coniferous forests 

2. Brownerths Subhumid: medium grass 2. Gray-Brownerths Cool-humid:deciduou8 

cover forests 

3. Chestnuterths Semiacid : light grass cover 3. Prairyerths Subhumid: heavy grass 

4. Grayerths Desert: scant vegetation 4. Red-and-Yellowerths Warm-humid 

mixed oak-pine forest 

5. Ferruginous Laterites Hot-humid: equa- 
torial forest 

*See C. C. Huntington, F. A. Carlson, Environmental Basis of Social Geography, p. 307. Also 
L. A. Wolfanger, The Major Soil Divisions of the United States, pp. 18-33. 

A valuable measure of the worth of southern soils may be taken 
by comparing them with others of the eastern group. 12 In terms 
of abundance of rainfall and length of growing season the Pedalfers 
rank in the following order: 

"Louis A. Wolfanger, The Major Soil Divisions of the United States, p. 14 ft. 
13 Ibid., p. 95- 


1. Ferruginous laterites 

2. Red-and-yellowerths 

3-4. Gray-brownerths and Prairyerths 
5. Podsols 

Measures of soil favorability and economic utilization coincide. 
When account is taken of the soil's natural fertility, the perfection 
of its physical features, and the proportion under cultivation, the 
groups rank thus on each count: 

1. Prairyerths 

2. Gray-brownerths 

3. Red-and-yellowerths 

4. Ferruginous laterites 

5. Podsols 

It will be seen that when measured in terms of maturity under 
the influence of climate and vegetation the soils of the South are 
neither the best nor the worst in the country. Because of slope, 
topography, rainfall, and stream action many of the South's soils 
have been transported before maturity. It is necessary, accordingly, 
to consider factors of geological origin. 

With the exception of highland and plateau areas, it is found, 
for example, that southern soils are not native to their homeland. 
In fact upwards of 90 per cent of the soils surveyed in the United 
States have been deposited in their present localities by moving 
water, moving ice, or moving air. 13 The materials of the Gulf 
and Coastal plain were originally laid down in the shallow water 
of the Atlantic Ocean by rivers. Their velocities varying with the 
slope, the rivers deposited coarse sands on sloping areas and fine 
silts on level places. The plateau and mountain regions have re- 
mained young as soils go, because erosion has removed soil covers 
before geological processes of disintegration were completed. The 
soils of the limestone valleys and uplands have been formed from 
limestone rather than crystalline rocks. Receiving material from 
the various soil provinces, the great rivers extending like fingers 
through the South have deposited fine, rich silts as valley filling 
to form the bottom lands of the Flood Plains region. The great 
variety of soils in the plains of the South is thus explained by J. 
Russell Smith as due to the varying velocities of the streams which 
deposited them. 

18 Bulletin 96, U. S. Bureau of Soils, p. 10. 


The movements of the water that placed these deposits were some- 
times swift carrying away everything but the coarser sand. In other 
places the less swift current left finer sand; and in yet other places it 
left clay or nearly pure clay. Sometimes there was deposited an abun- 
dance of shell, giving a high lime content, and again fossil beds (marl) 
were formed. So rich in plant food were the marl beds that they were 
quarried for fertilizer. In other places the lagoon behind the barrier 
beach has been filled by a mixture of humus from river mud, animal 
and plant remains, and sand from the barrier beach. This makes soil 
of the finest kind. In many places, especially in the South, the sea 
retreating across the plain left its legacy of ancient beaches, which makes 
the surface very sandy. There are also areas of upland marshes, charac- 
teristic of level lands having abundant rainfall. 14 

Differences in methods of deposit followed by varying condi- 
tions of drainage, which account for different types of erosion, have 
resulted in complicated mixtures of soil plaques on which have 
been accumulated the effects of climate and the debris of vegetation. 
Coastal Plains, Piedmont and Blue Ridge, alluvial strips, the Loess 
Belt, and limestone basins and prairies furnish the bases of dis- 
tinctive soil types in the South. 15 

The Coastal Plain is largely a region of mature soils, red-and- 
yellowerths and laterites, with a large proportion of the soil pre- 
vailingly sandy. The soils are leached of plant foods by constant 
rains, and organic matter is oxidized before it can form humus in 
the laterites which C. F. Marbut has called the end stage or death 
stage of soils. Their texture, however, is surprisingly tractable to 
tillage, and fertilization performs wonders on truck soils with long 
growing seasons. Pine can grow on the sandy coastal flats because 
shedding their needles only after several years they make no 
great demands on fertility. Such slow shedding, however, in turn 
builds up, soils lacking humus poor soils fit only for more pines 
or wiregrass. The early settlers called these lands pine barrens. 16 

The lean ground of the Piedmont and Blue Ridge possesses 
enough plant food to support a hardwood forest. The soils of the 
Piedmont are reddish brown, chocolate brown, dark gray, light 
gray, and whitish. They range in quality through good, bad, and 
indifferent, the lowest grades being those formed from the wear 

14 North America, p. 139. 

35 U. B. Phillips, Life and Labor in the Old South, pp. 6-16. 

16 E. E. Huntington and F. E. Williams, Business Geography, p. 49. 


of quartz rock with a little admixture of plant foods. Soils with 
such sandy bodies as characterize the Piedmont make good corn 
and pea land, and can be reclaimed for cotton by the addition of 
humus or fertilizer. To offset their disadvantages the Piedmont 
soils possess the merit of being cheaply cultivated as compared with 
sticky clay soils. 

The alluvial strips and pockets of southern rivers possess soils 
of rich silt but are often water-logged. The make-up of alluvial 
lands with their loams and clays may be represented by the con- 
ditions found in the Yazoo Delta as presented by E. N. Lowe. 17 
The loam lies in ridges five to six feet deep along the streams by 
which it was deposited by a process of over-slopping. The soils are 
deep, rich, quick, and easy to work. These loam belts, because they 
are elevated and dry, are preferred as building sites and frequently 
serve as levees. They are often found curving about in the alluvial 
plain, thus indicating where the streams once ran, Sometimes they 
enclose crescent-shaped lakes which rest in bends made by the 
now departed rivers. 

Between the loam ridges where the surface has received less 
deposit are found the swamps and the clay soils. The popular 
term "buckshot lands" well characterizes the clay soils of the color 
of lead, which when wet feel like soft soap. If plowed wet the 1 
soil dries in bits like buckshot and looks extremely unpromising 
for agriculture, but as it dries the soil falls to pieces and becomes 
loose and light in texture. As a result of the combination of these 
two soils with a hot, moist climate, the Delta is burdened with 
animal and vegetable life. Somewhat related is the unique Loess 
Belt on the east bluff of the Mississippi from Memphis to Natchez. 
Here silt from the dried mudflats of the river has been deposited 
by west winds as a thin veneer on this portion of the coastal plain. 
The soil is rich but extremely liable to erosion. 

Most fertile of all areas in the South are the limestone soils- 
limestone prairies in the coastal plains and limestone basins in 
the mountains. Limestone dissolves rather than disintegrates with 
rainfall leaving its phosphate impurities to enrich the soil and its 
parent material, the "C" horizon, to hold moisture like a sponge. 
Outstanding of these favored black lands are the Alabama Black 

""Mississippi: Its Geology, Geography, Soils, and Natural Resources," Miss. Geo- 
ological Survey, Jackson, 1915, Bulletin 12, pp. 265-68. 



Belt and the Texas Black Waxy, both notable in southern annals 
as producers of cotton and corn. Further northward, separated 
by long spurs of the Cumberland Plateau, lie the three great lime- 
stone basins, the Nashville Basin, the Kentucky Bluegrass, and 
the Great Valley of which the Shenandoah is a part. Here in rich 
soils diversified farming has reached its southern zenith. In grass, 
grain and dairying, fine horses, fine cattle and fine folks these 
regions excel. "A full century ago," Phillips remarks, "they were 
saying in the Bluegrass that Heaven could only be another Ken- 
tucky, and they are saying it yet." 18 

The South is fortunate in that its soils have been studied in 
more detail than those of other regions in the United States. 19 In 
his work on the soil regions of the Cotton Belt, Hugh H. Bennett 
has classified these regions still further. Differences in soil colors 
and native vegetation are very noticeable. Many of the names 
given these regions are applied locally and the change from one 
area to another can be noted by the casual traveler. For a rough 
index of the fertility of these subregions we may take the average 
yield of cotton per acre as worked out in the Cotton Atlas in the 
period before the advent of the boll weevil. Due allowance must 
be made, however, in the Southeast for the use of fertilizers. 


The Atlantic Coast Flatwood reaching in a narrow strip along the tide- 
water region of the Carolinas and Georgia with an elevation from 6 
to 150 feet contains 21 million acres. Its soils are mainly dark and 
grayish sands and sandy loams underlain by mottled sand and clays. 
The native vegetation is the typical open forest of long leaf pine with 
undergrowth of gall bushes and grass. The yield of cotton has averaged 
with fertilization 200 pounds per acre, but a definite shift has been 
made in this area to tobacco and truck crops. 

The Flatwoods of Florida and Southern Mississippi with 15 million 
acres belong to the same type. Their soils of dark grayish to white 
sands support long leaf pine with some palmetto undergrowth. Little 
cotton is grown and the area is definitely subtropic. 

w Life and Labor in the Old South, pp. 12-13. 

"Hilgard's Report on Cotton Production, Vols. V, VI, 1880 Census. H. H. 
Bennett, "Soils and Agriculture of the Southern States," Cotton Section of the 
American Atlas of Agriculture, O. E. Baker, "The South," Economic Geography. 
Ill, 50-86. 


The Middle Coastal Plain in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Northern 
Florida ranges from 100 to 400 feet in elevation and comprises over 20 
million acres of gently rolling land. Its grayish sandy loams over 
yellow sandy clay subsoils have an original covering of long leaf pine 
and wire grass. Cotton yields 205 pounds per acre due to fertilization. 

The Upper Coastal Plain with over 28 million acres possesses an alti- 
tude of from 200 to 500 feet with rolling surface. Grayish to reddish 
sandy loams over sandy clays furnish the soils which are covered by 
long and short leaf pines with some oak and hickories. Cotton yields 
190 pounds per acre. 

The Sand Hills form a narrow belt of loose, deep, grayish sandy land 
in rolling hills. The region contains but three and a half millon acres 
with a native vegetation of long leaf pine and blackjack oaks. Cotton 
yields 180 pounds with extensive fertilization. 


The Piedmont Plateau which extends from New York to Alabama has 
over 26 million acres in the South. Its altitude ascends from 100 to 
1500 feet giving the region a surface rolling and hilly. The soils are 
loams of red clay or grayish sand over clay subsoils. The vegetation 
is largely oak, short leaf pine and hickory. With the use of fertilizer 
cotton averages 180 pounds per acre. 

The Blue Ridge Mountain Area ranges in elevation from 1000 to 6000 
feet. The soils are grayish to reddish sandy and clayey loams with red 
clay subsoils. The native forests are of hardwood with some pine and 
undergrowth of rhododendron and mountain laurel. 

The Cumberland Plateau through eastern Tennessee and northern 
Alabama has an elevation of 1000 to 3000 feet. The soils are grayish 
to yellowish sandy, silt and shale loams with yellowish subsoils. The 
prevailing trees are chestnut, oak, and yellow poplar. 

The Southern Ozar\s comprise 15 million acres in Arkansas of mostly 
rough land with steep stony slopes, ranging in altitude from 500 to 
2900 feet. The soils are light brownish sandy and stony loams, and the 
vegetation is oak and hickory. 

The Limestone Valleys and Uplands are parts of the Appalachian sys- 
tem underlain by limestone. 

The Blue Grass Region of Kentucky, The Central Basin of Tennesee, 
and The Appalachian Valley which stretches from Pennsylvania to 


Alabama are characterized by brown soils of silt loam and clay loam 
with reddish brown subsoils. Their altitudes vary from 500 to 3000 feet. 

The Highland Rim of Tennessee belongs to the upland division with 
an altitude of around 1000 feet. Its soils are silt loam, gravelly and clay 
loams. About 50 million acres are found in the limestone valleys of 
the South. 


The Gulf Coastal Plains of Louisiana and Texas comprise a flat imper- 
fectly drained area of low lying black, brown, and gray clays devoted 
mostly to rice, grazing, and corn. 

The Interior Flatwoods reach from the Mississippi bottoms of Louisiana 
into Texas with 13 million acres at an elevation of 100 to 500 feet. 
Long leaf pine and post oak occupy soils, mainly of gray sandy loam, 
silt loams and clays with compact mottled subsoils. The surface is 
flat and poorly drained. Cotton yields 175 pounds. 

The Interior Coastal Plain consists of about 29 million acres of rolling 
lands, mainly grayish, brownish or reddish sandy loams with long and 
short leaf pine in the east and oak and prairie grass in the western part. 
The production of cotton has been around 165 pounds. 

The Mississippi Bluffs and Silt Loam Uplands form a long strip east 
of the great river of almost 17 million acres with an elevation of from 
100 to 600 feet. The surface is level to undulating, badly gullied in 
places, and the soils, loessial in origin, are of brown silt loams on which 
grows a native vegetation of oak, sweet gum, and poplar. Cotton yields 
about 200 pounds. 

The Clay Hills reach from western Georgia through Alabama and 
Mississippi containing 8 million acres. The surface is hilly and the sub- 
soils are stiff clays. Cotton yields 145 pounds. 

The Blacl^ Prairies extend in crescent shape from Alabama into north- 
east Mississippi containing 4 million acres at an elevation of 200 to 500 
feet. The soils are dark gray and brown limey clays with greatly rolling 
surface. The land is rich but due to cultural factors the yield of cotton 
is as low as 150 pounds. The advent of the boll weevil has led to the 
abandonment of cotton in much of this area. 

The Elac\ Waxy Prairies of Texas contain over 13 million acres of flat 
to undulating lands of good drainage with soils of black limey clays. 
The elevation is from 100 to 600 feet. The cotton yield is about 175 



Mississippi and other River Bottoms include the flood plains of the 
Mississippi from Missouri to the Gulf. Much of the area of 16 1-2 million 
acres with altitude of o to 300 feet and level surface is subject to over- 
flow. The soils are brown or mottled clays, silt loams, and fine sandy 
loams with a vegetation of cypress, red gum, and oak. The Yazoo 
Delta with the highest yield of cotton in the South is one of the most 
fertile soils in the world. There are more alluvial soils in the South 
than in any other region in North America. 

The Second Bottoms and Silty Prairies of the Mississippi, although laid 
down by the river, are now above overflow. The soils are brown and 
gray, silt and sandy loams with mottled subsoils. 


Eastern Oklahoma Prairies contain n million acres at an elevation of 800 
to 1200 feet. The surface is gently rolling with soils of brown, black, 
and reddish loams, clays and stony loams with clay subsoils. The vege- 
tation is prairie grass interspersed with post and blackjack oak and red 
cedar. The area yields something over 180 pounds of cotton to the acre. 

The Red Prairies extending across western Oklahoma into north central 
Texas contain over 31 million acres. With an elevation of 1000 to 2000 
feet, its surface is rolling with some eroded areas. Its soils, red and 
brown in color, are fine sandy loams, silt and clay loams with clay 
subsoils. Prairie grasses furnish the native vegetation. 

The Staged Plains include all Texas to the west of the Red Prairies, an 
area of about 12 million acres. The elevation is 2500 to 4000 feet and 
the surface is level. Soils are mainly light brown to chocolate brown 
silty clays and sandy loam underlain with heavy subsoils. Grazing is 
giving way to cotton in this area. 

The Edward Plateau and Grand Prairie extend from central Texas to 
the Rio Grande and have a combined area of almost 14 million acres. 
The surface is rolling to hilly and elevation from 1000 to 2000 feet. 
The soils, black, brown, gray and red are limey silt and clay loams 
supporting a vegetation of prairie and plain grasses with post oak and 


The above classification of soil areas in the South, the result 
of many patient labors by soil inspectors and analysts of the Bureau 
of Soils, will serve throughout this work as a basis for the consid- 


eration of the southern map in both its physical and cultural aspects. 
It will be of value in this chapter to glance at some of the ways in 
which different soil types have aided in influencing the distribution 
of human population and their modes of earning a living. 

Given such soils it would not have been difficult for the 
geographer to predict their treatment at the hands of pioneer 
farmers, cotton and tobacco planters before the day of commercial 
fertilizers. The greatest influences of the southeastern areas on the 
historical development of the region have been exercised through 
the medium of soil exhaustion. Here is the force, neatly balanced 
against the call of fertile western lands, that caused the extension 
of both frontier and plantation. We have evidence especially from 
the ubiquitous pen of Olmsted that erosion and soil exhaustion pre- 
vailed to a large degree under the conditions of slavery. It is 
likely, as southern students have contended, that much waste of 
land was due to inefficiency of Negroes recently inducted into south- 
ern civilization. On the other hand soil exhaustion resulted from 
the organization of the plantation around one staple. Neither 
slavery nor the plantation per se forced soil exhaustion as much 
as did the type of crop culture, extensive and lacking adequate 
cover crops and animal husbandry. Expansion thus became the 
mode of escape, the planter migrated with his slaves or as in 
Virginia sold them down the river. "Exhausted" fields were turned 
out to become the prey of erosion. 

The early history of land utilization in Virginia as shown in 
Avery O. Craven's excellent history reveals "(i) a steady cropping 
of lands in tobacco followed by Indian corn with ever lowering 
yields; (2) the general absence of meadows and stock with only 
here and there an exceptional farmer making use of manure to 
prolong the fertility of his lands; (3) and everywhere a tendency 
to abandon tobacco under the pressure of necessity in favor of 
wheat," whose yields rarely ran above ten bushels to the acre. 20 
He traces the cycle thus : 

Throughout the colonial period and afterward, agriculture was 
based upon a single crop produced by exploitive methods which caused 
yields to decline and lands to reach a condition in which the planters 
declared them "exhausted." Abandonment took place on a wide scale 
and the planters always accepted expansion as a matter of course. An 
20 Soil Exhaustion in Virginia and Maryland, p. 82. 


agricultural life was developed which was based upon the exploitation 
of the soil's natural fertility. To the evil of a single crop was added 
insufficient plowing and shallow cultivation, which, on loose soils and 
rolling lands and under heavy concentrated rainfall, invited destructive 
erosion; a constant replanting of the same crop in the same soils rapidly 
depleted the available plant food materials and encouraged soil toxicity 
and the development of harmful soil organisms; and the failure to add 
organic matter or artificial fertilizers prevented recovery or even the 
checking of the work of destruction. Expansion was the only escape, 
and expansion from the small to the large unit and from the older to the 
newer regions became a normal part of life in the section; and when 
expansion became difficult, lowering standards of living, hardening of 
social lines, and conflict between the various agents in social, economic 
and political life developed. 21 

Craven has shown that this process of soil wastage was checked 
in Virginia even before the Civil War by the appearance of the 
small farmers, by diversified farming, and by intensive utilization 
of land as in trucking. Between 1830 and 1850 the planters of this 
area improved their methods and conserved their soils to such an 
extent that Craven feels that "in no section of the nation and in no 
period of its history were greater agricultural advances made or 
greater difficulties overcome." 22 

While the record has not been so thoroughly examined for the 
other states of the Southeast, Professor R. H. Taylor shows that 
by 1840 the opinion had become general in South Carolina that 
the system of agriculture was ruinous to the soil and the planters. 
Through every agricultural address delivered in the state between 
1840 and 1860 runs the burden of soil exhaustion and its remedies. 
The gradual deterioration of the soil was laid at the door of shallow 
plowing, meagre use of manures, lack of rotation and of diversifica- 
tion of the plantation. "Tens of thousands of acres of once pro- 
ductive land are now reduced to the maximum of sterility" ran a 
typical complaint. Another predicted in 1850: "The period is 
fast approaching when no more forest lands can be cut down and 
put into cultivation and the choice must be made between improve- 
ment and migration." 23 North Carolina was not so much under 

21 ibid., p. 162. 

23 See R. H. Taylor, "Commercial Fertilizers in South Carolina," South Atlantic 
Quarterly, (April, 1930), p. 178. 


the domination of the plantation, being liberally sprinkled with 
Lutherans, Moravians, Quakers, and Scotch Presbyterians who 
with other yeomanry were devoted to small and self-sufficing farm- 
ing. Portions of both North Carolina and Georgia must have gone 
through the cycle of soil exhaustion attendant upon cotton, how- 
ever, if one is to judge by present-day consumption of commercial 

It was finally commercial fertilization which came both to repair 
the ravages of soil exhaustion and to extend to further reaches its 
primary cause, the culture of cotton. The first Peruvian Guano 
was imported at Baltimore in the early 1840'$ whence its use spread 
to Virginia and the Carolinas. First mentioned in South Carolina 
in 1845, it was regarded mainly as a costly form of experimenting. 
From 1850 to 1860 sporadic experiments were tried and controversies 
about its use raged in the agricultural papers. The peak of its 
use was reached about 1865, after which phosphates, first secured 
from Baltimore, were, beginning in 1868, mined from native beds 
in the state. The output had increased from 20,000 tons in 1868-70 
to 355,000 in 1883. By 1890 the use of commercial fertilizers had 
become general throughout South Carolina. In all the southeast 
it brought again under cultivation thousands of acres of worn-out 
lands and carried cotton culture to the very foot of the Blue Ridge. 
It accounted for a revival of agriculture in an area of exhausted 
soils and limited financier resources for improvement. Its results, 
Taylor points out, could be seen in the rise of trucking on the 
coast, in the abandonment of cultivation of alluvial lands where 
ditching costs more than fertilizers, and in increased specialization 
in cotton and tobacco. 24 Cover crops and the growing of food and 
food stuffs were further neglected so that by 1890 E. C. Brooks esti- 
mated that "very few of the southern states were growing as much 
food as in i860." 25 

The extent of soil exhaustion under a one crop system is best 
shown by figures of fertilizer consumption. Germany, the United 
States, and France in 1928 used 56 per cent of the world's conn 
mercial fertilizer. It is significant that the country of virgin soils 
should be a close second to Germany, cropped before medieval days. 
When attention is turned to the areas of use, it is found that of 

lbid., pp. 183-89. 

85 Story of Corn, pp. 214-15. 



FIGURE 4. Fertilizer is used at present principally on the more intensively cultivated crops, par- 
ticularly cotton, tobacco, fruit, and truck, including potatoes, and almost wholly as yet in the Eastern 
and Southern States, where the rainfall is heavier and soils more leached. About half of the expenditure 
in 1924 was in the coastal plain and piedmont portions of Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. Minor 
territories are the trucking districts of New Jersey and Long Island, the tobacco-onion district of the 
Connecticut Valley, the Aroostook potato district in Maine, and the fruit-trucking district in Southern 
California. Significant and prophetic is the considerable expenditure shown in Ohio and Indiana and 
even in Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota. (Courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture). 

Percentage of All Farms. 1924 


FIGURE i. i\mety per cent of the tarmers in South Carolina bought fertiliser in 1^24 and about 
85 per cent in Georgia and North Carolina. In Delaware, Maryland, and Alaoama about three-fourths 
of the farmers bought fertilizer; in Pennsylvania, New jersey, Virginia, and Florida about two-thirds; 
in New England, New York, and Ohio about one-half; in Michigan, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, 
Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana one-third to two-fifths; in Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, and the 
Pacific Coast States about one-tenth. The use of commercial fertilizer is moving west, and although it 
is used mostly on intensively cultivated crops that have a high value per acre, its use on the general 
farm crops, even in the fertile Corn Belt, has proven profitable. (Courtesy of U. S. Department of 


the 7,843,236 tons consumed in the United States in 1929, the thir- 
teen southern states took 5,503,953 tons, comprising 70.2 per cent. 
North Carolina, using about a million and a third tons, leads the 
nation, followed by Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, and Florida 
which altogether consume over half. The farmers of South Caro- 
lina, who account for one eighth of the country's consumption, 
spend for fertilizer each year approximately one fourth to one 
third of the value of the state's cotton crop, 20 to 25 million 
dollars. 26 The great variation in the amount of commercial ferti- 
lizer used in the South is due largely to the cycle of cotton prices. 
The soils of the newer southwestern areas are commonly thought 
free from this drain, but from 1919 to 1929 Texas increased her 
consumption fourfold, from 46,000 to 187,215 tons, mainly in the 
northeastern section bordering on Arkansas. The following table 
indicates the extent to which both production and consumption of 
commercial fertilizers centers in this area. 


No. of 


Cost of 
etc. in 
of dollars 

Value of 
in thous- 
ands of 

Consumption in tons as in- 
dicated by sale of tags 




Virginia .... 










North Carolina 
South Carolina .... 

Florida . 









Total South 
(Inc. Md.)..... 
Total the Nation . . 








*Includes one establishment each in Missouri and West Virginia. 

Other soil influences may be pointed out. Archer B. Hulbert 27 
has recently devoted a volume to the subject. From the ability of 

23 "The Fertilizer Problem in South Carolina," Clemson Agricultural College, 
Circular 107, p. i. 

27 Soil: Its Influence on American History. 


streams to lay down stratified deposits of alluvial soil and to coat 
the inland lagoons and river terraces with rich silt this historian 
sees important social results in the way of settlement and the 
planting of towns and cities. He has pointed out the role of stream 
and soil in the historic process of settling this country. 

Excellent soils at all deltas had a direct bearing on making such spots 
choice land for the squatter or prospector. The bars in the main river 
added to the strategic character of the mouths of streams as sites of 
settlement. . . . The bars in the main stream decreased its depth and 
made fording safer. The main fords were located by the larger game 
animals at such points, and men, following their well-laid paths, found 
and used these fords. Frequently high water rendered the ford im- 
passable, especially after vehicles came into use. Thus the ferry boat was 
needed, and the business of ferrying was a profitable one. Ownership of 
land at such points was, therefore, doubly advantageous, giving the 
owner a lucrative employment at odd hours. As vehicle travel became 
common, the ferry was usually moved to a part above the shifting bars, 
where there was a steady depth of water. Railways came later, follow- 
ing streams with monotonous regularity, and bridged streams on the site 
of the ancient ford. Hundreds of farms in these strategic locations 
became hamlets in the era of the stage and wagon and blossomed into 
cities on the advent of the railways. Beyond this interesting evolution 
we see its secret of the soil-transporting power of water. 28 

The importance of the quality of! the soil to the student of so- 
ciety is well shown in the influence of soils derived from limestone 
upon the politics of Kentucky. 

When, in 1861, it was to be determined whether Kentucky should go 
with the South or North, the question turned in the main on the occu- 
pations of the population. Where the soils were rich, the plantation 
system was possible, the slave element was large, and in general the 
voice of the people was for union with the South. Where the soils 
were thin, the people had no interest in slavery, for they owned no 
negroes. Old frictions with the slave-holding portions of the state 
existed, and consequendy the people of this sterile land were generally 
devoted to the Union. A soil-map of Kentucky would in a rude way 
serve as a chart of the politics of the people in this crisis of the nation's 
history. If Kentucky possessed a soil altogether derived from lime- 

28 Archer B. Hulbert, "The Increasing Debt of History to Science." Proceed- 
ings, American Antiquarian Society, n. s., 29, pp. 29-43. 


stone, there is no question but that it would have cast in its lot with the 
South. 29 

Before the boll weevil destroyed regional crop balances, distribu- 
tion of races and types of agriculture could be shown to follow 
closely the pattern of soil belts. Ellen C. Semple made such an 
analysis of the Southeast on the basis of the Census of 1900. In 
Georgia, the rich alluvial soil of the swampy coast, given over 
to the production of rice and sea island cotton contained a pop- 
ulation 60 per cent Negro. In the Flatwoods, a border zone 
of sandy pine barrens, the number of Negroes dropped to 20 or 30 
per cent of the total. The Interior Coastal Plains, a rich area de- 
voted to upland cotton, contained from 35 to 60 per cent Negroes. 
Alabama showed a similar distribution of soils and population 
from north to south over its level surface. In the deep calcareous 
soils of the Tennessee River Valley devoted to cereals, Negroes com- 
prised 35 to 60 per cent of the inhabitants. The mineral belt cover- 
ing the low Appalachian foothills contained the densest population 
of the state with less than 17 per cent Negroes. Further south the 
deep black loams of river bottoms and the crescent-shaped Black 
Prairie contained 60 per cent Negroes. Next the Coastal Flat- 
woods, sandy timber land, showed a decline in both quality of soils 
and proportion of Negro inhabitants. 30 

The extent to which fertile soils have attracted the plantation, 
cotton culture, and the Negro may be gleaned from the following fig- 
ures bearing on eight soil regions in 1909. The census year 1909 has 
somewhat arbitrarily been taken as typical of the distribution of 
cotton culture before its disturbance by the spread of the boll weevil. 
Since these figures were compiled acreage has abandoned on the 
Eastern Belt with a greater concentration in the Delta and 
an extension to new areas in West Texas. In traits characteristic 
of the plantation and cotton culture it will be observed how con- 
sistently the Black Prairies and the Delta rank near the top and the 
Atlantic Flatwoods and Interior Coastal Plains may be found at the 
other extreme. 


Fertilization has saved the South from dire threat of soil exhaus- 
tion. The threat, however, remains in another form, soil erosion. 

29 N. S. Shaler, Nature and Man in America, p. 244. 

30 Influences of Geographic Environment, p. 48. 








Upper Coastal 

Sand Hills 


Black Prairie of 
Alabama and 

Yazoo Missis- 
sippi Delta 






Interior Coastal 
Plain of Tex. 
and Louisiana 









Per cent of land area in farms 

47 4 

65 7 

62 2 

84 3 

68 9 

52 6 

86 1 


Per cent of land area improved 

13 5 

33 3 

23 6 

44 9 

46 5 

37 1 

62 2 


Per cent of land area in cotton 

3 5 

13 3 


20 4 

23 9 

21 5 



Per cent of land area in corn 

4 3 

9 6 

6 8 


8 2 

6 5 



Per cent of total farm land in 

6 8 

28 6 

24 6 

28 7 

64 2 

85 2 

14 5 

13 9 

Per cent of total improved land in 

2 5 

16 4 

9 3 

15 3 

45 1 

56 6 

10 6 

7 8 

Per cent of farms operated by: 

23 3 

44 8 

31 5 

40 8 

78 7 

86 1 

9 5 

24 3 

26 5 

9 g 

8 5 

3 7 

7 2 


2 5 


White tenants 

13 7 

16 7 


28 9 

5 2 

5 1 



White owners 

36 2 

28 2 

35 4 


8 6 

3 3 



Acres per farm: 
Negro tenants 

26 4 

44 9 

38 6 

47 7 

33 2 




Negro owners 

49 6 

82 5 

86 7 






White tenants 

90 8 

63 7 

65 3 






White owners 

195 4 

159 5 

156 5 






Acres of improved land per farm: 

19 2 

35 7 

28 1 

31 7 




35 4 

20 8 


33 9 


41 6 

33 8 

47 8 


White tenants 

29 6 

40 2 

30 9 

31 9 

56 6 


66 9 


43 1 

57 8 

44 9 

45 4 

90 7 

79 2 

77 1 


Farms reporting cotton, per cent of 
all farms: 
Negro tenants 

83 6 

89 5 


91 8 

91 6 




Negro owners 

70 1 

92 4 

92 7 






White tenants 



83 5 






White owners 

76 1 

86 7 

86 7 






Work animals per farm (average of all 

1 1 

1 4 

1 4 

1 3 

1 4 

1 3 

3 4 


Acres per work animal: 
Cotton, corn, oats, wheat; total. . . . 

6 9 

12 6 

10 1 

12 1 

13 5 





8 5 

9 1 

7 6 

5 9 

4 6 






1 2 

1 i 

1 1 





Acres of cotton per farm reporting: 
Negro tenants 

9 6 

20 5 

17 1 






Negro owners 


18 3 







White tenants 









White owners 









* Atlas of American Agriculture, Part V, Section A, "Cotton," pp. 12-13. 

Of the rainfall on the soil, the greater part, after circulating through 
plant organisms, returns to the air by evaporation, and about one 


third flows to the sea. It is this one third that changes the surface 
of the earth by means of erosion. Erosion involves the scouring 
of channels, the sapping and undermining of banks and strata, 
and the transportation and removal of soil materials in suspension 
and in solution. Other factors constant, the rate of erosion tends 
to vary in geometric ratio with the slope of the surface the slope 
determining the swiftness of the stream. 

In the state of nature a balance is reached between vegetation 
and land forms so that the soil cover is disturbed but slightly and 
slowly. Primitive agriculture often served only to stimulate the 
growth of the native arrangement of plants in local patches, 
leaving production to natural processes. In long settled areas an 
effective agriculture brings about changes in the natural balance 
existing between a soil and its covering. By the processes of 
plowing and cropping the mulch is dissipated, humus diminished, 
the soil grows harder, and after each rain there is more surface 
run-off and less water soaked into the subsoil. Crops substituted 
for native vegetation cover the soil imperfectly and for only part 
of the year; accordingly the soil is subject to evaporation directly 
rather than through the medium of young plants. Rain drops 
with their force unbroken by foliage sludge the soil into slime 
at its surface and pack down the soil beneath. The natural drain- 
age is affected by the resulting channels cut in the surface, and 
the water level is lowered. 31 

It is perfectly true that the surface soils of all lands are moving 
slowly but surely down to the sea. The small particles, the last 
to be deposited, are the first to go. Normally under the cover of 
native vegetation this movement of soils is a slow process permitting 
the regeneration of soils from rock material almost equally as fast 
as it is carried away. 32 N. S. Shaler has estimated that a particle 
of mud which escapes from the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico 
is likely to have been more than five thousand years on the journey 
from its original site in the bed rock. 33 

The displacement of surface soils takes two forms, gully erosion 
and sheet erosion. Such movements of soil may be checked but 
they cannot be stopped. In gully erosion water runs off in streams, 

31 W. J. McGee, "Soil Erosion," U. S. D. A. Bureau of Soils, Bulletin 71, 1911, 
pp. 19-27- 

32 E. N. Lowe, Mississippi Geological Survey, Bulletin 42, p. 276. 

33 The United States of America, I, 378. 


creating channels which grow deeper and wider, finally rendering 
the land nearly worthless. In sheet erosion the soil removal is 
nearly uniform, the flowing waters carry of? particles from every 
part of the field. The process may continue until the development 
of incipient gullies, parallel to each other, known as shoestring 
gullies. 34 Sheet erosion "goes on wherever there is enough slope 
for rainwater to run down hill, even in desert countries where the 
precipitation is only three or four inches." 35 

The results of erosion are both physical and chemical. The 
development of gullies means ruin to the contour of the land. This 
is also accompanied by a deterioration in soil structure, since 
erosion, in removing the finer particles, leaves behind the skeleton 
ofj the soil, the fine gravel and heavier sands. The land between 
gullies drains too rapidly, and by lowering the water table for 
the good land renders it difficult for plants to obtain enough 
circulating soil water for proper growth. The chemical counter- 
part of erosion is leaching, the process whereby plant food, such 
as salts, is taken out in solution. Leaching goes on in all soils but 
the process is especially accelerated in regions of high rainfall as 
the tropics. Since leaching proceeds by percolation through the 
soil, sloping is not a necessary condition and erosion may not be 

The baneful effects of erosion do not stop with the soils from 
which the cover is removed. The fertility of neighboring bottoms 
may be affected by deposits of sand in layers left by the flow of 
waters. Channels of rivers and waterways may be choked and 
diverted in their courses by silting. The rivers of the Southeast 
which now run thick with red clay mud were reported by earlier 
travelers as being peculiarly clear and limpid. Such have been the 
results of cultivation and the loss of forest cover. Erosion has 
assumed a new importance in the development of hydro-electric 
power. If water power development is to be permanent and co- 
ordinated, the great reservoir sites created by large dams should 
retain their capacity. As it is now, the life of a water power 
system is definitely limited by the number of years it will take 
the soil removed by erosion to fill up the reservoirs. There already 

34 R. O. E. Davis, "Soil Erosion in the South," U. S. D. A. Bulletin 180, p. 9. 
85 H. H. Bennett, "The Increased Cost of Soil Erosion," The Annals of the 
American Academy of Political and Social Science, CXLII, 172. 


exist in the South "many reservoirs which have silted shut so that 
nothing remains except the channels of the stream." 36 

The South is more susceptible to erosion than any other section 
of the country. Erosion is favored by deforestation, slopes, shallow 
soils, and heavy rainfall. The South possesses the highest annual 
rainfall in the United States, averaging around 50 to 60 inches. 
Grass and humus serve to protect the soil but southern crops such 
as cotton and corn require that grass be weeded out. Iowa has 
an annual rainfall of 30 inches, and during the winter her soils 
are frozen impervious to rainfall. The southern climate is prac- 
tically frostless and her denuded cotton and corn fields remain ex- 
posed to leaching and erosion the year around. Sloping surfaces 
are found in the regions of the Piedmont, Appalachians, Ozarks, 
limestone valleys, and clay hills. It is unsafe to cultivate over 18 
per cent of the surface of the Appalachians. About 74 per cent of 
the area is estimated to be forested and this is too small for the 
preservation of slopes from erosion. Here -three types of erosion 
have been pointed out. On sodded "balds" overgrazing and tram- 
pling by cattle have broken turf and started landslides that devel- 
oped into gullies. On slopes where forests held the balance between 
erosion and the accumulation of humus, timbering has removed 
the protective covering and started the accelerating process of rain 
wash. In the third place, slopes cleared for agriculture and now 
abandoned have proved especially susceptible to caving and under- 
cutting. 37 

Shallow soils are furnished by the thin veneer of upland loess 
on the blufls of the Mississippi. In this area, covering almost half 
the width of Mississippi, special names have been given common 
erosional features. A "break" is the head of a small retrogressive 
ravine; a "gulf" is a large break with precipitous wall of great 
depth and breadth; a "gut" is merely a road cut deepened by 
storm wash and the effects of passing travel. 38 

In 1909 W. W. Ashe wrote, "there are in the dissected upland 
areas of the South more than 500,000,000 cultivated acres all now 
idle" because of soil exhaustion and erosion. 39 No less than 

36 W. W. Ashe, "Soil Erosion and Forest Cover in Relation to Water Power 
in the Southeast," Engineering World, XXIII, 73. 

87 Isaiah Bowman, Forest Physiography, pp. 610-15. 

**lbid., p. 524. 

30 "The Waste from Soil Erosion in the South," Review of Reviews, 39, p. 439. 


50,000,000 tons of fertile earth are borne from upland farms by 
the rivers of the South each year. The Alabama River, he estimates, 
carries three million tons of soil yearly to the sea; the Tennessee 
carries eleven million, and the Roanoke which carries four million 
discolors the waters of its sound for forty miles. 40 Hugh H. Ben- 
nett, leading expert on erosion of the Bureau of Soils, has estimated 
"at least 513 million tons of suspended soil material and 270 tons 
of dissolved matter are carried out to tidewater every year. The 
Mississippi alone holds 428 million tons of this traffic in wastage." 41 
Chemical analysis has enabled experts to estimate the amount of 
potential plant food contained in this erosional debris at 126 billion 
pounds or 21 times the yearly net loss removed by the crops. The 
value of the phosphorous, nitrogen, and potash removed in solution 
is approximately $2,000,000,000. The extent of erosion as shown 
by Bennett is startling. In one county in the southern Piedmont 
90,000 acres of land once cultivated have been mapped as rough, 
gullied land unfitted for cultivation. In a southern coastal plain 
county 73,000 acres have been thus struck out on the map. In 
one Piedmont county it seems clear that a soil layer ranging from 
four to eighteen inches deep has been removed. North Carolina 
county agents estimate on an average only ten crops are secured 
from steep land from its clearing until abandonment of cultiva- 
tion. 42 The red plains of Oklahoma and Texas, practically a new 
region for farming, have become one of our most severely washed 
areas. Out of 17 million acres in the southern Brown Loam Belt, 
the Mississippi bluffs and loessial soils, eight millions have lost 
soil to a depth of four to twenty inches. J. Russell Smith is willing 
to assert that since 1880 erosion has destroyed an area of the Cotton 
Belt equal to that of Belgium. 43 


Hand in hand with physical factors of erosion go social factors 
that condition soil exhaustion. "Men may because of ignorance or 
habit ruin their soils, but more often economic or social conditions 
entirely outside their control lead or force them to a treatment of 

40 Ibid., p. 441. 

L "The Increased Cost of Erosion," The Annals of the American Academy of 
Political and Social Science, CXLII, 170-72. 

42 J. Russell Smith, Tree Crops, p. 4. 

43 North America, p. 253. 


their land that can end only in ruin." Two such situations have 
been found in the South in the condition of the frontier and the 
plantation. The frontier finds its population too sparse to use its 
available land supply intensively. The standards of living of 
frontiersmen have been acquired in more highly developed regions. 
The domestic economy of the frontier proves insufficient to meet 
the needs and the new settlers are forced to the excessive cultivation 
of a staple that will furnish a surplus for exchange demanded by 
money economy. The production of this staple makes demands 
upon a sparse population that cannot be met by normal returns 
from the soil. Excessive distance from the market renders intensive 
agriculture unprofitable. Agricultural tools and, technique are also 
likely to be crude and wasteful. All these factors point to one 
conclusion: the native fertility of the soil is forced to carry the 
load of the frontier. "The object has been," wrote a contemporary, 
"to cultivate as much land with as few hands as possible, to 
exhaust the soil and turn it common, and then to remove and 
pursue the same course again, upon new land." 44 As soon as a 
field grew unprofitable it was likely to be thrown out of cultiva- 
tion and another area cleared. Left bare of native vegetation the 
abandoned fields become subject to erosion the waste of land. 

From the long time view of physical resources this was hope- 
less exploitation. From the viewpoint of the human factors such 
exploitation of soil resources was doubtless desirable. It hastened 
the development of the frontier into a densely populated more 
complex society. "The destruction of a little land amid such an 
abundance was a matter of small consequence compared to the 
rapidity with which wealth and luxury were replacing privation 
and simplicity." 45 By the use of no other resources could the fron- 
tier have developed cities and towns, laid out lines of transportation, 
and acquired the economic surplus necessary to foster education. 

It is true, however, that even in the midst of the frontier en- 
vironment certain national groups retained the cultural practices 
of old-world agriculture and thus protected their fields against 
erosions. This was true of the German farmers in the early settle- 
ment of the Ozark hillsides. 

"John L. Williams' The Territory of Florida, 1837, quoted in Phillips, Planta- 
tion and Frontier, I. 131. 

45 A. O. Craven, Soil Exhaustion in Virginia and Maryland, p. 38. 


Whereas the pioneer American farmer often ruined the river-hill farms 
in a little while, the German settlers built up the most valuable planta- 
tions. Much of the hill land was veneered with loess, but had been 
avoided by the Americans because of its uneven surface. The Germans, 
however, who were accustomed to careful farming on a small scale 
were able to cultivate the hill soil, so as to avoid erosion and were willing 
to expend upon it the additional labor which its topography required. 
Properly tilled the bluff lands yielded excellent regular returns. 46 

The abolition of slavery and the change to tenancy and the 
modern plantation has left the situation in the South much the 
same as regards erosion. The same staples are cultivated, but the 
remedy for soil exhaustion is fertilization rather than migration 
to new areas. A shifting tenancy with no permanent interest in 
the land does not find landowners with long-time plans for pre- 
venting erosion. There exists only one method of interesting ten- 
ants in the care of land rather than production of crops. That is 
to pay them extra for all work done in preserving land. The 
owner looks after both production and conservation; the transient 
tenant cares only for production. 


Remedies for erosion are briefly four in number: terracing, in- 
tensive cultivation, an agriculture of grass, forestry and tree crop- 
ping. Terraces have been used in parts of the old southeastern 
states for 75 years. The sloping valleys of Virginia contain some 
of the best examples of terracing known. Says Dean I. O. Schaub 
of North Carolina State College: "If you go from Raleigh to New 
Orleans you can almost pick out the counties that have county 
agents by observing the localities where the fields are terraced. 
To me this is the most outstanding visible monument of the county 
agent in the South." 47 There are now over 494,000 acres terraced 
in Texas. 48 Closely akin to terracing is intensive cultivation by 
the hand and knee farmer working on plots and patches. It is 
by such method that the Chinese have retained their soil covering 
through long centuries. Both of these remedies are dependent upon 
densely crowded populations and high land values. J. Russell 
Smith quotes a southerner as saying that it would be a boon to 

46 Carl Saner, Geography of the Ozar\ Highlands, p. 169. 
"Fertilizer Review, February 1929, p. 8. 
48 H. H. Bennett, loc cit., p. 175. 


the nation if land could become worth one hundred dollars an 
acre, so that people could not afford to destroy it and then move 
on and buy more for ten, twenty or thirty dollars an acre, to be 
in its turn destroyed. 49 Intensive cultivation, of course, conserves 
land at the expense of labor and men. The present agricultural 
surplus will, it seems likely, operate to further land abandonment 
rather than land conservation on all except the special purpose 
soils. Saving soil by means of grassy meadows seems at first sight 
an extensive use of lands. This is true, for a greater area is re- 
quired with less cultivation. At the same time, however, the 
marketing of products of a meadow agriculture, milk, cream, and 
butter fat, is correlated with a density of population in urban cen- 
ters. Accordingly an agriculture with grass and humus as a means 
of soil conservation in the South waits on the growth of dairying to 
become profitable. 

There remains one other remedy applicable to the present 
situation, forestry and tree cropping. In the Appalachians and the 
Ozarks the South has thousands of sloping acres in meadow or 
under the plow that are slowly washing away. In a recent book 
on Tree Crops, J. Russell Smith after ransacking the agricultural 
experience of many climes urges the permanent planting of such 
slopes to nut and fruit trees. A new use of so large an area would 
demand changes in habits of consumption of a large part of the 
American public. To plant denuded and eroded areas to forests 
would demand no such changes, since the United States is now re- 
planting only one fourth as much timber area as it clears for con- 
sumption each year. In the South it is observed that old field 
pine has a tendency to take possession of worn-out fields. Because 
of its much more rapid growth in the South these pines soon 
furnish a canopy of foliage and a mat of needles to break the force 
of rainfall. With the aid of Bermuda grass and wild honeysuckle 
the spread of roots may finally block gullies and stop washing. 
This, however, is a rather haphazard method of leaving the re- 
building of soils to nature. With the process of land abandonment 
going on as at present much of the poorer land has reverted to the 
state for taxes. The state by holding this land of? the market may 
thus form the nucleus of a state forest reserve. The adoption of 

49 North America, p. 254. 


such measures as a state policy would go far toward arriving at a 

solution of the dual problems of soil wastage and deforestation. 

The soils of the South, it may be said in conclusion, do not rank 
in fertility with the blackerths and the prairyerths of say, the Corn 
Belt. Few soils do. On the other hand the native fertility of the 
Alabama Black Belt, the Texas Black Waxy, the limestone valleys 
and basins of Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky, and the alluvial 
soils of the Mississippi system have seldom been excelled. In terms 
of the soil cycle it may be said that the soils of the highland areas 
because of removal by erosion have never reached maturity while 
the leached soils of the flat woods have already passed into 
stage. Many of these leached sandy soils have, however, the 
advantage of good physical constitution; they are tractable and 
take fertilization easily. The South possesses more plentiful rain- 
fall and a longer growing season while the West has more fertile 
soil. It has been said that the South's advantage is permanent 
while the West's is temporary. This overlooks the fact that the 
prairie lands by an agriculture of meadows and livestock may have 
their fertility replenished, while clean cropping and heavy rainfall 
may further deplete southern soils. The soils of the eastern South 
have been cropped longer than any other section of equal size in 
the United States. Some of their areas have been passed through 
a cycle of soil exhaustion and have been saved from its dire threat 
only by the advent of commercial fertilizers. They now use more 
fertilizer than the rest of the nation, a fact which has begun 
to tell in favor of western areas in differential costs of cotton pro- 



THE PINEY WOODS of the southern states furnish a native plant 
complex, distinctive and far-reaching in the social adjustments it 
has occasioned. The ways in which men have ordered their lives 
in relation to the forests among which they have lived have fur- 
nished an interesting theme for geographers of all countries. No- 
where has the forest experience of a society been more enlightening 
than that of the settlers of the South as they cleared the land fort 
pioneer farms, bled the pines for turpentine, distilled pine wood 
for naval stores, recklessly logged off the softwoods for timber, 
and finally came face to face with the problem of lumber shortage 
and unwanted cut-over lands. Obvious to the native, enigmatic 
to the outsider, difficult of depiction by the human geographer, 
the piney woods possess a life and language of their own. 

The great Atlantic forests of North America, divided from the 
Pacific forests by a central area of prairie grasses and desert shrubs 
as though by a vast body of water, originally contained one mil- 
lion square miles of trees in unbroken array. After over one 
hundred and fifty years of settlement there remained in 1923 not 
more than 260,000 square miles of merchantable forest. Over 500,- 
ooo square miles have been cleared for settlement and the remainder 
has been shorn of its timber, devastated by fire, and grown up in 
brushwood. The southern states, it is estimated, have left 90,000 
square miles of coniferous forests. The southern forest region is 
characterized by four extended biotic communities. Least in im- 
portance is the subtropic forest of mangrove found mainly in coastal 
Florida of the Everglades, Louisiana of the Delta, and Texas of 
the Rio Grande. Along the southern rivers stretch the second 
group, the bottoms and bayou forests of mixed cypress, tupelo, and 
red gum. Third and more important in commerce is the more 
extended area of the southern hardwood forests. The oak, hickory 




forests are found in the Ozarks and in parallel strips in central 
Texas. The major oak, short-leaf pine forest follows the Piedmont 
from New Jersey to Georgia with strips through northern Alabama, 
slanting southwestward through Mississippi. The oak, chestnut, 
yellow poplar forest group, in so far as it touches the South, com- 
prises almost the whole of Kentucky and Tennessee with strips in 
northern Mississippi and Alabama. 1 

Fourth, the southeastern pine forest, largest and most important 
forestry area, covers the wide strip of the coastal plain from Vir- 
ginia to beyond the Mississippi River. The chief of the United 
States Forestry Service has said : 

The virgin pineries of the South covered 130 million acres and contained 
probably 650 billion board feet of saw timber. They formed one of the 
richest reservoirs of softwoods on the earth's surface and for the past 
thirty years they have been the mainstay of the eastern and central 
lumber markets of the United States. The production of southern 
timber passed its peak in 1916 and the last great migration of American 
sawmills is under way across the Great Plains to the virgin forests of 
the Pacific Coast. 2 

The southern pine forest untouched by human hand offered 
one of the most beautiful spectacles of nature. "A drive through 
the virgin long-leaf pine forest," wrote F. V. Emerson, "will be 
long remembered. The stately trunks rise forty to sixty feet and 
then spread out their dense foliage which joins above like the 
arches of a cathedral. There is little or no undergrowth, and 
the view fades into a maze of the column-like tree trunks." 3 To 
stand amid the still whispering of an illimitable forest of long leaf 
pine as twilight fades into dusk is to encounter in imagination 
the pioneer's thrill of fear in his forest experience with panthers 
and Indians. And apart from memories the piney woods pos- 
sess a grandeur all their own. 

While at least ten species of pine are found in the belt but four 
are of importance; short-leaf, long-leaf, loblolly, and slash pine. 
Short-leaf and loblolly pine grow farther inland extending through 
the Piedmont up to the hills. Long-leaf and slash pine hug the 

'"Natural Vegetation," American Atlas of Agriculture, pp. 3, n; map, pp. 4-5. 
2 W. B. Greely, "Relation of Geography to Timber Supply," Economic Geogra- 
phy I 7- 

8 "Southern Long Leaf Pine Belt" Geographical Review, VII, 81. 


low coastal plain. It is they whose exuding oils and gums form 
the basis of the naval stores industry. Long-leaf grows in deepest 
sandy soils and withstands fire to an uncommon degree. In the 
relatively infertile sands of the "pine barrens" it excels all other 
trees in its ability to grow because of a long, stout tap root. Its 
scant foliage indicates to the lumberman a large heart with small 
waste from branches. It is valuable because of its great strength 
proved under pressure and strain of all kinds; moreover, owing 
to the resinous matter which permeates its fibers, the long-leaf is 
extremely durable. The virgin forests of slash pine were con- 
fined originally to poorly drained flat lands and the borders of 
swamps, but, with the cutting of the forests, slash pine is observed 
by students of ecology to be spreading inland over the southern 
map. It, however, does not grow on the soils of dry deep sandy 
ridges, the typical "pine barren hills." It furnishes the heaviest, 
hardest, strongest wood of all the commercial conifers in the United 
States. Loblolly pine, a tree of the lowlands, follows the coastal 
plain and river courses. It grows well on land too poor for other 
crops, and furnishes the most prolific seed producer among pines, 
bearing a full crop about every third year. Because it grows faster than 
either short or long-leaf pine, it furnishes the bulk of second 
growth timber and has been given the name of "old field pine." 
Short-leaf pine is the tree of the uplands with a preference for clay 
soils. It furnishes a large though not a tall tree and possesses a 
large proportion of sap wood. 

Hints at the fertility of the soils underlying southern forest 
communities are furnished in some observations made by E. W. 
Hilgard. 4 If cotton is grown continuously on long-leaf pine areas 
the early settlers observed that the yield decreased over a half 
from the first year to the third. Where short-leaf pine is found 
intermingled with long-leaf production held out from five to 
seven years. On soils supporting hickory intermingled with oak 
steady crops could be grown as long as twelve years. 

Regardless of the uses to which the southern timber belt has 
been put one is compelled to agree with John M. Hager that "its 
soil, climate, labor supply, transportation facilities and general 
economic position place it among the best regions of the world 
for the development of both hardwood and softwood timber 

* Soils, p. 314. 


growing." 5 The pine, one of the fastest growing species known, 
there meets ideal conditions for rapid growth. Heavy rainfall 
and long, warm summers with a minimum of cloudy days 
furnish nature's laboratory for making trees. Measurements by 
the United States Forestry' Service show that while in a period of 
seventy years red spruce in Maine grew to a diameter of 1.8 
inches, hemlock in New York to 3.3 inches, loblolly pine in Texas 
reached 24.0 inches. One lumber company in Texas has been 
able to cut its pines every five years, if it keeps down fires and 
takes no trees under 15 inches. 6 For example, no eastern species 
of conifer equals the slash pine in its rate of early upward growth. 
In its first year's growth it reaches as high as eight to twelve inches; 
by the fifth year it will be from six to ten feet high; and from 
its fifth to eighteenth year it grows two or three feet yearly. 
After twenty years its rate of upward growth slackens perceptibly. 7 
Loblolly pine grows faster than either short or long-leaf. For the 
first twenty years its growth is slower than slash pine, but in the 
period from twenty to sixty its growth is not exceeded by any 
tree in the South. The best specimens grow as high as 170 feet 
with diameters of 65 ta 70 inches. Its growth in diameter is also 
good, as witness the record of one tree that grew 12 inches in 
diameter in as many years. 8 

Up to certain density pines exhibit the desirable quality of 
growing better in thick stands. Indeed, pines grown in open 
space develop into what is known as bush or "bull pines," running 
to large branches reaching nearly to the ground. Grown under 
proper conditions of density the pines reach up in a slim, straight 
trunk of a diameter practically uniform until it branches near the 
very top. 


Human settlement may be regarded as advancing upon the 
southern forest in a series of frontiers. As each frontier advanced, 
the forest gave way to the approach of man in another form of 
exploitation. First came the pioneers with the task of clearing the 

5 Commercial Survey of the Southeast, Domestic Commerce Series 19, p. 76. 
6 J. Russell Smith, North America, pp. 267-68. 

7 W. A. Matoon, "Slash Pine Primer," U. S. D. A. Farmer's Bulletin 1256, 
1922, p. 8. 

8 W. A. Matoon, "Loblolly Pine Primer," U. S. D. A. Farmer's Bulletin 1517, 

PP. 3, 4- 


ground for cultivation. For them land was the goal and the 
earth's unwanted garment of timber the wasted by-product. Next 
in the pineries developed the naval stores industry with resin and 
turpentine as end products and trees again the by-products. Low 
density of population conspired with increasing scarcity of timber 
to change this frontier to one of exploitation of yellow pine 
leaving the cut-over lands as a wasted by-product. The fourth 
frontier appears when these abandoned wastes are used for free 
range for grazing stock of the region. The process endj with 
timber shortage and the South is brought face to face with the 
next stage in prospect agriculture or reforestation. 

The early records of timber utilization in the South are either 
lacking or so confused that the best evidence is to be found in 
the forests themselves. The experience of the pioneer with the 
forest gives the clue to much of the country's later policies. The 
first act of man in claiming an area for cultivation is to remove 
the forest cover and so destroy the factor which throughout the 
ages has been most potent in enriching the soil. The pioneer re- 
garded the forest as a goal to be reached because to him forested 
land meant fertile land, but the trees he regarded as an enemy to 
be destroyed because they retarded civilization. 

Everywhere the pioneer sought the forest though he could not tolerate 
it; hailed it with delight only to destroy it; and accepted of its shelter 
and its generous bounties only to repay it with the axe and the grub hoe. 
In many cases the settlers crossed fertile prairies that they might locate 
upon less fertile forest lands. If his demands for the products of the 
forest did not keep pace with the amount removed to make way for agri- 
cultural purposes, the surplus was destroyed by fire. In the central val- 
leys the pioneer sought the forest because he found there the building 
material for the construction of his rude palace, the log hut, which was 
the result of his first effort to build a home; he found there the fuel with 
which he might prepare his meals and temper the biting cold of the 
dreary winters; he found bubbling springs and sparkling streams, which 
furnished necessary water; he found abundant game for his table, which 
was more easily secured under cover of the forest; and finally he brought 
with him from the East the conviction that only forest lands were fertile. 
He failed to observe that the forest grew on the poorest land, on the clay 
and gravelly hills of loess and drift and on the sandy-bottom lands, 
that the rich surface soil of the forest was a product of the forest itself 
and constituted a veneer which was swept away from both hillside and 


bottom-land by the first freshets which followed the clearing of the 
forest, and that on the other hand the prairies teemed with plant life 
similar to that upon which he depended for his crops, the prairie 
grasses being closely related to his cereals in both structure and habit. 
These were the first reasons which prompted the pioneer to settle in the 
forest; but there were soon added two others. One was the fury of the 
prairie fires which periodically swept the great plains and he congratu- 
lated himself that he enjoyed the cover of the forest. Again he felt his 
utter helplessness before the terror of the swirling, blinding blizzard 
from which the forest protected him. 9 

The Black Prairie of Alabama, for example, was not settled before 

Before the pioneer the Indian had already by the use of fire 
made large clearings in the eastern forests for patches of corn. 
For the colonists, faced with the sheer overwhelming luxuriance 
of vegetation, these clearings were greatly to be desired and many 
were the raids and forays carried on over their possession. The 
pioneer's first advance upon the forest partook of the same checker- 
board arrangement of alternating clearings and forests. A rude 
garden, fields of a few acres situated in a circle of girdled and 
deadened trees, reclaimed the squatter's human establishment from 
the forest. Further south in his "cowpens" the family of the fron- 
tiersman lived upon the range and the hunting in the shadow of 
the wilderness. Backwoods settlements in the pine barrens of 
South Georgia were thus described in 1831: 

The people were poor, unenterprising, and unenlightened, but contented 
in their lowly circumstances. The pine woods stretched for scores of 
miles unbroken save by an occasional corn or cotton patch. The wire 
grass beneath the pines, and here and there a few wild oats furnished 
sustenance for ill-kept cattle. Few wagon roads existed, but bridle paths 
led from cabin to cabin. The State of North Carolina was dubbed the 
Rip Van Winkle of the South, but Emmanuel and Tatnall counties 
and their neighborhood in Georgia could easily surpass any other section 
in sleeping ability. The people did not struggle against the enervating 
influence of their climate and surroundings. Without ambition or stim- 
ulus of any kind the life history of each generation was a repetition of 
that of the preceding one. 11 

8 Bohumil Shemik, "The Pioneer and the Forest," Proceedings, Miss. Valley 
Hist. Assn., Ill, 97, 98. 

10 T. P. Abernathy, The Formative Period in Alabama History, p. 37, 41. 

11 U. B. Phillips, "Georgia and States Rights," Am. Hist. Assn. Reports, II, 
1901, p. 141. 


If the methods of the pioneer were wasteful he might be par- 
doned. There existed, it must be remembered, no direct con- 
sumption of timber but the consumption of land, the desired new 
grounds. The forest was limitless and grew too rapidly. Such 
direct consumption of timber as occurred was directed to the best 
species and most desirable trees for the use of private shipbuilders 
and the British and American navy. The extent to which such 
culling of the woods proceeded must have been small compared 
to the timber triumphantly given to the flames in tlve log-rolling 
bees of the frontier. For on the frontier the use of fire and the 
axe to open clearings and dispose of their debris was not regarded 
as waste but as victory over an encroaching enemy. 

Trees grew rapidly and when cultivated lands were abandoned the 
forest returned again after a few years. Travellers passing through what 
appeared to be virgin forests were often surprised to discover the scars 
of former cultivation and to learn that they were crossing what some 
twenty years earlier was a tobacco field. Such conditions added much 
to the problem of labor but afforded some compensation in the form 
of protection to neglected soils against washing and in the addition of 
organic materials in the form of falling leaves. 12 

Furthermore, the least that can be said is that the pioneer's 
first experience with forest conservation was unfortunate. The 
English crown had reserved much of the best timber for the royal 
navy and the Federal Government was to continue this policy. 
In 1799 the first Federal law was passed regarding timber for the 
navy. Live oak and cedar trees were to be reserved for naval 
timbers at the discretion of the president in 1817. Further enact- 
ments were passed in 1822, 1827, 1828, and 1831. In all about 
200,000 acres were covered by these laws while the act of 1831 im- 
posed heavy fines for cutting timber reserved for the navy. These 
acts served to irritate the pioneers. The laws showed ignorance 
of the great extent of the forest reserves and they deprived many 
settlers of their legitimate timber resources. Accordingly, the 
prohibitions and their penalties came to be universally disregarded 
on the frontier. 13 

13 A. O. Craven, Soil Exhaustion as a Factor in the Agricultural History of Vir- 
ginia and Maryland, 1806-1860, p. 27. 

u Gifford Pinchot in The South in the Building of the Nation, V, 259. 



Exploitation of the piney woods began as an industry of the 
frontier. Wooden vessels and sailing ships found great need for 
the pitch and tar, and the traditional name of naval stores by 
which the industry became known has never been lost. Naval 
stores comprised the first industry to be developed in the south- 
east, pitch and tar being staple since before 1700. The first men- 
tion of turpentining is found in a manuscript in the Public Rec- 
ord Office, London, dated 1610: "Instruction for Suche Things as 
are to be Sente from Virginia." 

Pyne trees or ffirre trees are to be wounded w th in a yarde of the 
grounde, or boare a hoal with an ogar the thirde pte into the tree, and 
lett it runne into anye thinge that may receyve the same, and that which 
yssues oute wilbe Turpentyne worthe 18 L Tonne. When the tree 
beginneth to runne softelye yt is to be stopped up agayne for p re servinge 
the tree. 14 

The demands of her shipping and the deficiency of all other 
countries in these raw materials early secured the interest of Eng- 
land in the colonies of the South as an independent source of the 
naval stores, produced by dry distillation of wood. They were 
second only to tobacco as exports of the colonies of Virginia and 
Maryland with Norfolk as the chief shipping point. In 1700 they 
furnished the chief exports of both North and South Carolina, the 
latter shipping 60,000 barrels a year. The utilization of trees was 
carried on mainly along navigable streams and inlets. Just before 
the Revolutionary War the exports reached the total of 200,000 
barrels of turpentine, pitch, and tar with an estimated value of 
$225,000 in present currency. Up until 1820 the use of turpentine 
and rosin was limited to the demands of domestic industry. In 
1834 the copper still was perfected and the industry advanced 
south of the Cape Fear River. Rectified spirits of turpentine in 
1842 came into general use as an illuminant and led to the over- 
production of rosin as a by-product. Perfection in technical meth- 
ods was followed by the transfer of the still from the place of 
shipment to the forest. The British Free Trade Act of 1846 greatly 
stimulated production until the Civil War served to depress the 

14 Cited in A. W. Schorger and H. S. Belts, "The Naval Stores Industry," U. S. 
D. A. Bulletin 229, p. 2. . 


industry. 15 The advantageous position, however, which southern 
naval stores secured in the world markets during colonial days 
has been retained up to the present. It is threatened today not 
by competitors but by its vanishing virgin stands and its own 
crude techniques. 

It was not until the turn of the century that the operators in 
turpentine orcharding faced an adequate realization of the limits 
set by nature to the supply of virgin timber. "Up to the middle 
nineties the large supply of yellow pine stumpage, the prejudice 
against lumber cut from turpentine trees, and the lack of ad- 
equate transportation facilities in many regions where turpen- 
tine operations were conducted caused large bodies of turpen- 
tine timber to be abandoned and left to be destroyed by fire, wind, 
and decay." 16 In each of the six large pine states such losses ran 
from three to ten billion board feet of lumber. "There is no 
more deplorable sight to the man who has a sense of the value of 
trees than the abandoned turpentine orchard a grim array of 
mutilated trunks, scorched and charred where the box is made, 
broken by the wind, infested by insects, and worthless except to 
illustrate the futility of killing the goose that laid the golden egg. 
The South is full of such pictures." 17 

The fundamental forces and processes of nature everywhere 
underlie and condition the adjustments of society. Necessary to 
an understanding of life in the shifting pine belt is a comprehen- 
sion of the biological processes of the pine tree. Long-leaf and 
slash pine are peculiar among trees in that during the transforma- 
tion of their food materials such as starch into woody tissue there 
is formed a by-product known as resin. Contrary to popular be- 
lief resin is not the sap nor "life blood" of the pine tree. It is 
stored in a system of ducts beneath the bark, and cutting the bark 
serves to increase the number of ducts and stimulates the flow 
of resin. The formation of resin accompanies the rising of the 
sap, beginning about March and continuing until October or No- 
vember. 18 

The method of obtaining turpentine from standing pine re- 
mained traditional and unchanged from colonial until com- 

^Gifford Pinchot, "The Naval Stores Industry," U. S. D. A. Bulletin 229, p. 3. 


17 O. W. Price, "Saving Our Southern Forests," World's Wor\, V, 3214. 

"U. S. D. A., Bulletin 229, pp. 10, 17.* 


paratively recent times. The method of chipping the bark and 
cutting the "boxes," deep holes at the base, described by "an old 
hand in the business" for DeBow's Review held good for two hun- 
dred years. 

Box the tree after the sap is gone down and stop before it rises; there- 
fore it will require more hands to box than it will to work the trees. 
A good hand will cut from 50 to 60 quart-boxes a day; some expert 
axemen in practice, may cut 100, but it is very seldom such hands are 
to be found. Care should be taken to cut the box on the straight side 
of the tree. Some trees will contain from i to 4 boxes, owing to the 
size of it [sic]. Care should be taken to leave from 4 to 6 six inches of sap 
and bark between faces, so as to preserve the life of the tree. Cut the box 
from 4 to 4% inches deep, about 8 inches wide. Go down the stump 
to the tree so as to cut the heart as little as possible. Clean out the 
chips and bark from the boxes that your turpentine may be free of 
them. The next work, after the box is cut, is to gauge or corner, by 
a few chops, commencing in the edge of the box, running up the tree 
widening it at the same time, so as to make a channel for the turpen- 
tine to run into the boxes. If the face is nearly a foot wide, say from 
ten to eleven inches, then your boxes, or at least a part of them, will fill 
quickly, and you should have your barrels ready so as to dip as fast 
as the boxes fill. The next work, after the cornering is done, is to be 
done with a hatchet made for the purpose; then comes the round shave. 
Never go into a tree more than 2 l / 2 or 3 grains of the wood, and that 
should be repeated every eight or nine days, never going up the tree 
more than one-eighth of an inch at a chipping, that is with the round 
shave, the only object is to keep the old cut fresh, you may go over 
every seven days as many persons do. A hand can chip over his task 
in five days, some will in less time. Twenty-five hundred is a task 
for a good hand, then he has two days to dip; if his trees run well 
and are thick, he can dip three barrels a day, if not, from two to two 
and a half. The timber for barrels should be got in the winter, staves 
32 inches long, the heading wide, so as to make, when round, 17^2 
inches across; a common cooper will make from four to six good barrels 
a day. An average to the hand is two hundred barrels per year which 
varies in price from $2.50 to $4.00 per barrel, as prices current will 
show. 19 

The boxes are filled with gum every three or four weeks and 
are dipped about seven times a season. A portion of the gum loses 

19 J. D. B. DeBow's Resources of the Southern States, III, 252. 


about half its turpentine by evaporation and hardens on the face. 
It is called "scrape" from the method by which it is removed. 

The one marked change from ante bellum methods has been 
in the gradual replacement of boxing by a system of cups and 
gutters for catching the gum. The box made a crude receptacle 
open to chips, bugs, and dust which lowered the grade of the 
gum. The box itself was a permanent wound to the tree which 
left it liable to windfalls and invited fire by leaving a surface cov- 
ered with gum and unprotected by bark close to the inflammable 
wire grass. It also left the tree unprotected against insect pests 
and threatening parasites. Moreover, the fact that cups can be 
placed higher up the tree leaves less scrape. An experiment with 
cups after the French methods by M. A. Pudgin at Monck's 
Corner, South Carolina, was abandoned in 1868. W. W. Ashe in 
1894 also tried out. this method at Bladenboro, North Carolina. 
It is, however, to the untiring efforts of Dr. Charles H. Herty of 
the United States Forest Service that the adoption of cupping 
in turpentine is due. 20 His problem was to find a substitute for 
boxing "that would be simple enough to be used by Negro laborers, 
cheap enough to command the attention of operators and renters, 
and efficient enough to secure a maximum flow of resin." Herty 
became one of the experts of the Bureau of Forestry under Giflford 
Pinchot and proved the efficiency of the new methods by an ex- 
tensive experiment on a tract of pine land near Ocilla, Georgia. 
He also showed that trees when chipped lightly yielded more tur- 
pentine of good quality and left the tree in better condition for 
lumbering. Gradually the improved technology won its way 
with intelligent turpentine men, and the Negroes under capable 
direction lost some of their contempt for the gutters and "flower 
pots" hung on pegs. Pottery plants have gone into the manufac- 
ture of cups for the trade. Tin boxes have lately replaced many 
of the flower pots. The system has offered the one hope of re- 
viving an industry that seemed destined to pass and it has already 
added millions of dollars annual value to the turpentine industry. 

The southern pine belt now produces over 70 per cent of the 
total world supply of naval stores, representing an invested capital 
of over $50,000,000. 

J "The Turpentine Industry in the Southern States," Journal of the Fran\lin 
Institute, March 1916; Edwin Mims, The Advancing South, pp. 87-92. 


Georgia and Florida now predominate and account for about 50 per 
cent of the world production, with their respective products for the 
crop year, April i, 1925, to March 31, 1926, valued at $17,966,970 and 
$14,110,363. The value of Alabama's output was $3,180,064, which 
compares with $4,010,022 for Mississippi and $2,078,968 for Louisiana, 
the other principal producing States. For the first three States the aver- 
age number of wage earners were, respectively, 12,961, 10,890, and 
2,166; and total wages were $6,371,616, $5,864,038, and $i,i 4 5, 7 88. 21 

For certain areas naval stores offer the main source of income. 
Altogether pine chemicals furnish raw material going into a great 
number of industries such as paints, soaps, greases, belt dressing, 
roofing, etc. The demand has possibilities of wide expansion at 
the hands of scientific research were there any guarantee of in- 
creasing the supply of pine products. 

Naval stores furnish an industry with a routine of labor, lan- 
guage, and a life distinctly individual and picturesque. The hu- 
man factors in turpentining are most influenced by the fact that 
the industry has proved to be a migrating one. Turpentining has 
moved across the map as a kind of industrial frontier preceding 
lumbering. The process is called in expressive southeastern phrase 
"turpentining ahead of the cut," and consists of bleeding the trees 
to the limit from two to four years before felling them for lumber. 
In 1849, for example, North Carolina produced 91 per cent of the 
naval stores; in 1879 the lead went to South Carolina; from 1889 
to 1899 it fell to Georgia; in 1909 and 1919 it was taken by Florida, 
and North Carolina produced only one half of one per cent of 
the crop in that last year. 

Secretary Meredith in 1920 in a report to the Senate called at- 
tention to these facts: 

The naval stores industry of the South has migrated from state to state, 
following the timber. South Carolina has been practically abandoned 
by the industry for more than 20 years. In from four to six years under 
present demands, Georgia will take its place with North and South 
Carolina as an insignificant factor in production. . . . Florida has been 
the mainstay of the naval stores production during the past ten years, 
but the end of its supply is definitely in sight. Much of the long leaf 
pine and slash pine of Alabama has already been worked. . . . Missis- 
sippi will show an increase in production during the next four or five 

21 Commercial Survey of the Southeast, p. 77- 


years. The timber, however, both here and in Louisiana and Texas, is 
largely owned by lumbermen who will force a rapid exploitation for 
naval stores in order that lumbering may not be delayed. 22 




Spirits of Turpentine 
(In Thousands of Barrels) 

Gum Rosin 
(In Thousands of Barrels) 


















1 865 



2 065 







and Decrease 


Number of establishments 





Wage earners, average for year 





Wages paid* 

3 8 583 



11 6 

Cost of materials, supplies, fuel, power*. . . 





Value of products* 





Value added by manufacturing* 





In Thousands of Dollars. 

The pressure of the market for rosin and turpentine has not 
served the interests of conservation, but has hastened the process 
of exploitation and given rise to the chipping of trees too im- 
mature for lumber. Since an area is worked out and abandoned 
within a few years at most, the still locations or turpentine camps 
are temporary affairs and the equipment and processes remain 
crude by compulsion. The type of labor and the standard of liv- 
ing are also lowered. That the status of the worker is not even 
lower than it is may be laid to the fact that turpentining while 
migratory is not seasonal in the same sense as wheat. 

The number of laborers employed remains much the same over the 
entire year because the operations in the woods incidental to the actual 
gathering of the crop cover all the intervening months. This obviates 
the irregularities attendant upon a floating labor supply and holds intact 

82 Quoted in American Forestry, 30, p. 406. 


definite population units. In general the labor is of a semi-skilled 
character, consisting largely of Negroes. Wages are commonly paid on 
a piecework basis, ranging from $1.50 to $2.50 a day, varying with the 
season, nature of the timber being worked, prices, locality, and avail- 
ability of labor. Current purchases are facilitated at the commissaries, 
and settlements are usually made semimonthly, the workers receiving 
in cash the difference between the amount of the total wage and pur- 
chases or advances for the period. 23 

If owned by planters, the pine lands may be leased by operating 
companies who work the turpentine. Stumps on cut-over lands 
are also blasted out and processed for naval stores. Many of the 
tracts, however, are owned by lumber companies who supervise 
the extraction of naval stores before beginning lumbering. The 
supervision in the field is in the hands of a mounted woods rider 
who is able to oversee the work on a number of crops of a thousand 
faces each. 


Even more than turpentining the lumber industry has mi- 
grated over the map. The reason is the obvious fact that it; takes 
timber more than a generation to grow. Accordingly it has been 
treated as a mine to be exhausted rather than a crop to be re- 
grown. Up until about 1880, however, more trees were cut for 
the} sake of clearing land than for lumber. It is in part due to the 
social heritage of the pioneer's experience with timber as a by- 
product of free land that the United States has the highest per 
capita consumption of lumber in the world. Increasing demands 
for timber since that period have caused land to be logged more 
rapidly than it could be claimed for agriculture. 24 "For a hundred 
years the lumber industry has been in the process of migrating 
from one forested region to another" in search of virgin timber. 
In American lumbering operations there have occurred four great 

The first lumbering took place along the Atlantic Coast from Maine 
southward to the Royal colonies in Virginia and the Carolinas. But lum- 
bering as we know it did not get under full headway until nearly the 
middle of the last century, with the introduction of improved forms of 

23 Commercial Survey of the Southeast, p. 78. 

84 W. B. Greely, et al., "Timber: Mine or Crop?" Separate 886, U. S. D. A. 
Yearboo^, 1922, p. 86. 


machinery and large merchant mills. As the first cut of pine in the 
more thickly settled coast regions drew near its end the exploitation 
of the white pine forests of the Lake States began and the hardwood 
regions of the central Appalachians were opened to the market. As 
the cut of the Lake States drew to its close many manufacturers of that 
region removed their operation to the South and began the attack upon 
the great belt of long-leaf pine stretching from Virginia to Texas. 
Each of these moves increased the distance between the centers of 
production and the centers of consumption. Now four-fifths of the 
original southern pine is gone, and there is in progress a marked drift 
of lumbermen from the Southern States to the Pacific Coast and to the 
northern part of the Rocky Mountains, known as the Inland Empire. 25 

The exploitation of the third reserve of America's timber supply 
has occurred apace in the South. In 1920 every southern state, 
if we except the three border states of Kentucky, Missouri, and 
Oklahoma, showed a surplus of timber produced over timber 
consumed. Only five other states could be found in this group. 26 
In 1920 the cut-over area lacked only some 43 million acres of 
reaching the present wooded area while the restocking area was 



Original Wooded 

Present Wooded 



1 . Virginia 





2. Kentucky 
3 . North Carolina 
4. Tennessee 






5 . South Carolina 

36 4 


18 8 

13 7 

7. Florida 

28 8 


7 3 


8. Alabama 
9. Mississippi 
10. Arkansas 






11. Louisiana 
12. Oklahoma 






13. Texas 




6 7 

The South 





The United States . . 





25 R. V. Reynolds and Albert H. Pierson, "Lumber Cut of the United States, 
1870-1920," U. S. D. A. Bulletin 1119, p. n. 

88 W. B. Greely, "Relation of Geography to Timber Supply," Economic Geogra- 
phy, I, 6. 


227 million acres short of the original wooded area. The Capper 
report to the United States Senate in 1919 showed the South's com- 
parative ranking as regards virgin stands o timber as follows: 


Pacific Northwest 77,115,000 

Southern States (n) Virginia to Texas 39,135,000 

Lake States 10,100,000 

Northeastern States (9) 3,896,000 

Central Hardwood Region 7,150,000 

The Southern Pine report for January 1927 shows a startling de- 
crease in the stand of southern virgin timber to 12,650,000 indicating 
a loss of 26,350,000 acres in less than eight years. The total stand 
of virgin timber in the South was placed at 75,750,000,000 board 
feet and the yearly cut at 8,500,000,000 feet. A 1928 United States 
Forest Service Bulletin reports: "The end of virgin timber in the 
South is definitely in sight, while already the younger timber is 
being cut as fast as it grows." 27 

For a long period now the southern pine states have held the 
center of the stage in lumber production. The first adequate cen- 
sus of forest products, that of 1870, found them in the lead and 
the census of 1920 was the first to show that lead seriously threat- 


Total Net Pine 
Area (In Millions 
of Acres) 

Area Old Growth 
(In Millions of 
of Acres) 

Restocking Saw 
Timber (In 
Millions of Acres) 

Merchantable Pine 
Stand (In Millions 
of Board Feet) 




North Carolina 





South Carolina 






























The South 





"See Major George P. Ahern, "Deforested America," Senate Document 216, 
1929, p. 3, for facts here presented. 


ened. In that year southern pine stands were classified as in Table X. 
The peak of production of the lumber industries of the United 
States was reached in 1907, and the curve of timber output started 
on a long decline in the face of high prices and increased demands 
for building. The peak of southern production was reached in 
1909, when almost 20 billion board feet were cut in the eleven 
pine states, and another peak was reached in 1917 with approx- 
imately nineteen and a half billion feet. The year 1920 was the 
first in which the western states threatened the eight states of the 
long-leaf pine belt. For that year eleven western states and only 
one eastern state were able to increase production, while in the 
other thirty-six states, including all southern states, production de- 
clined. The figures for 1929 showed that the Pacific states have, 
for the first time, come within some 1,316 million board feet of the 
production of the complete southern pine belt of eleven states. 28 The 
great timber reserve of the South has been exploited, and lumber- 
ing has reached its last frontier in the Pacific Northwest. 

Transportation and type of sawmill offer the two keys to the 
technology of the lumber industry. Because of the exaggerated 
ratio which bulk and weight of timber bears to its value, trans- 
portation has always loomed large in the industry. Logging in 
northern and mountainous regions has been able to make use 
of hard packed snows in sledding out logs and of rivers in floating 
them to markets. This of course has served to decrease the ex- 
penses of lumbering operations except for the fact that the place 
of entry and exit of the logs must be owned and controlled by the 
company. In the pine flatwoods the first lumbering took place 
along rivers and railroad lines. Thus early the Piney Woods 
were pretty well stripped as far back of these lines of communica- 
tion as ox-teams and mule teams could reach. The method was 
expensive and slow, and in the interior stretched unbroken re- 
gions of pine forests. The lack of snow, the sluggishness of the 
rivers of the flatwoods, and the level nature of the country all 
suggested one recourse logging by railway. F. V. Emerson wrote 
in 1919: 

Twenty to thirty years ago, when the northern forests were approaching 
exhaustion professional lumbermen bought these virgin pine forests at 
nominal prices. We have seen that the transportation problem of getting 

28 Statistical Abstract, 1931, p. 756. 


the logs to mills and then getting the lumber to market had limited local 
development, for local companies possessed small capital. To locate 
large mills on a railroad and then haul the logs ten or fifteen miles or 
more required well-built tram roads, which are expensive. The large 
scale exploitation of pine timber, therefore, passed to companies possessed 
of ample capital, and the lumbering industry in this belt, like so many 
other industries, is largely in the hands of capitalists and strong com- 
panies, many holdings including tens of thousands of acres. Fortunately 
the level and rolling surface offers few obstacles, and thousands of miles 
of well-built railroads now traverse these forests. Most of these rail- 
roads are of standard gauge. After the timber has been cut, the owners 
are reluctant to abandon the expensive railroads and so maintain some 
train service, with the hope that the country will develop and make the 
roads profitable or that some trunk line will buy them as feeders. 
Many of the abandoned tram roads are now used as public highways, and 
they will be an important factor in the development of cut-over lands. 29 

It can be seen that the mere presence of natural resources has 
not been sufficient stimulus to insure their development. The lack 
of large aggregations of capital, of technical skill, and of ac- 
quaintance with economic opportunities involved have served 
largely to take the exploitation of the piney woods out of the hands 
of their original owners. An observer wrote of the spread of 
lumbering to the pine belt of southern Alabama in the early 1900*8 : 

A few southerners told me, on my recent trip along the Gulf Coast, 
of the golden opportunities which they failed to grasp, of the numerous 
successes of Northern and Eastern men and lamented the passing of the 
old school of gentlemen, the midday mint juleps, and the easy-going 
business methods. Others looked prosperous and were working shoulder 
to shoulder with the Yankees. 

Enterprising men from North Carolina have tapped the stately pines of 
Alabama's virgin forests, which only a few years ago were to be had for 
fifty cents an acre, lumbermen from the North and East have sawed these 
trees and shipped the products to every country in the world. . . . And 
the owners of the land, most of them residents of Mobile, have cheated 
themselves out of millions of dollars by failing to see the opportunities 
within their grasp and by not being sufficiently well informed as to 
intrinsic values to charge a fair price for the turpentining and lumbering 
rights. 30 

29 "Southern Long Leaf Pine Belt," Geographical Review, VII, 81-90. 

30 R. W. Woolley, "Lumbering Around Mobile, Alabama," Review of Reviews, 
33, pp. 191-92. 


Sawmills range in type from the portable class I mill cutting 
less than 500,000 board feet to the large class V mills turning out 
over 10,000,000 board feet a year. Class I which contains almost 
70 per cent of the mills in the United States produces only 10 per 
cent of the cut as compared to class V comprising four per cent of 
the mills but producing nearly 60 per cent of the annual lumber 
cut. 31 In 1920, 43 per cent of all mills and 40 per cent of class V 
mills were located in the South. The large mill, backed by plentiful 
capital, situated in great tracts of virgin timber, may employ a 
labor force of more than a thousand men. These are the old mills, 
representing the concentration of lumbering in strong hands. They 
have possessed heretofore something of the quality of permanency, 
have used more efficient and conservative logging and forestry tech- 
nique, and have been forced to do less dumping on the market 
in order to meet the fixed charges of taxes and interest. As the 
large operators cut out their virgin stands the increasing trend 
is toward smaller mills. Between 1919 and 1920 it is estimated 
that over one eighth of the class V mills in the South either cut 
out or reduced their cut to class IV limits. 32 

The cutting of odd lots, small tracts, and second growth has 
of necessity fallen to the small portable mill. These "woodpecker 
mills" have come to be regarded by lumbermen as having about 
the same relation to good lumbering practices as sheep have to 
good grazing. One critic has called the portable sawmill "a small 
but insatiable monster which moved from place to place leaving 
mutilated spots where it rested and destroying more timber than 
it sawed." 33 Many owners after having overworked their turpen- 
tine stands have been forced to call in these small mills to salvage 
the immature timber before its death and decay. Much of the 
lumber produced by these mills is poorly manufactured, improperly 
seasoned, and dumped on the market. Lacking sufficient capital, 
forced to clean up with inefficient methods and to dump improperly 
seasoned lumber on the market to meet fixed charges, these mills 
constitute a marginal threat to the lumbering industry of the 

The difference between large and small mills is the contrast 

31 U. S. D. A. Bulletin 1119, Plates I, II. 

32 Ibid., p. 26. 

83 O. W. Price, "Saving Our Southern Forests," World's Wor\, V, 3215. 


between moving timber to the mill and moving the mill to the 
timber. The large companies make their mills stationery and 
bring the logs to them by means of improved tram roads reaching the 
forest anywhere within a large radius. Thus the labor supply 
may live at home in communities and yet be transported to any 
part of the company's timber holdings. "The old time isolated 
lumber camp is thus disappearing. Its place is being taken by a 
more permanent and useful type of community." 34 It must be 
remembered, however, that it does not pay to lay rails unless the 
operations in virgin timber can be expected to last for twenty 
years. Unless the corporation owns the land outright it can hardly 
be expected to lay tracks. When it comes to the logging of second 
growth and small tracts the problem of transportation is solved, 
as has been suggested, by making the mill portable. Small com- 
panies buy cut-over lands at low price, and, by the employment 
of portable mills and transient labor, attempt to make hurried 
profits from quick turnover of second growth. 

The clean-up of third growth, poles and wasted timber, usually 
undertaken by the portable mills, goes into the wood pulp industry. 
Heretofore, the South, in spite of its available raw materials, has 
not profited to a large extent from the paper industry. Instead of 
following lumbering into the South, paper mills first turned to 
Canada for their supplies. 35 Due to the great expense of installing 
wood pulp plants, they have largely remained in the North and 
East where they were first erected. The South, however, pos- 
sesses the cheapest pulp wood in the nation, averaging, in 1929, 
$7.56 per cord for the rough wood. 36 But the pines streaked 
with pitch have heretofore been processed for the sulphate or 
kraft pulp. The South dominates the field of kraft pulp, produc- 
ing from her pitch-pine woods paper bags, wood boards, and 
brown wrapping papers. In 1929, 36 plants with one million 
tons' capacity were located in this area, while the country nor- 
mally imports 1,200 tons of kraft paper daily. The problem of 
diversification into fine and bleached papers is primarily one of 
developing chemical processes for treating pine pulp. The pulp 

"Huntington and Williams, Business Geography, pp. 185-86. 

86 W. B. Greely, "Relation of Geography to Timber Supply," Economic Geogra- 
phy, I, 9. 

36 J. H. Pratt, "Lumber and Forest Products Industry in the South," The Annals, 
of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 153, pp. 7-7i- 


plant at Canton, North Carolina, the largest in the country, is de- 
voted to fine papers. The United States Forest Product Labora- 
tories at Madison, Wisconsin, have developed a process for pro- 
ducing a bleached pulp from yellow pine. 37 Dr. C. H. Herty 
now of New York has announced that newsprint pulp can be made 
from slash pine and contends that farmers should grow more pines 
for the incoming industry. 

Southern lumbering has not developed the lumberjack, that mi- 
gratory worker, living in bunk houses without women and children 
and addicted to all the masculine vices and exploits. To a large 
extent it has made use of the stable native labor supply. L. C. 
Glenn writes that some of the lumbering companies operating in 
the Cumberland Plateau "permit and even encourage the original 
inhabitants to remain upon the land in what practically amounts 
to a system/ of free tenancy, since they consider their presence de- 
sirable for the protection that they may afford against forest fires 
and depredations by timber thieves or other trespassers as well as 
to furnish a source of labor for the operation of mines, logging 
camps, and lumber mills." 38 

The explanation of the lumber town is found in the fact that 
the industry has proved, in the phrase of Colonel W. B. Greely to 
be both pioneer and nomad. Though temporary in the South, 
timbering is not transitory and has not trained its workers in mo- 
bility. Lumbering furnished in 1920 employment for about a 
quarter of a million men and the support of a million people. 
Most of the population is housed in lumber towns that, in spite 
of their temporary nature, are often well developed. 

The lumber towns are as a rule, up to date, with electric lights, city 
water, often gas, and sometimes paved streets. The schools are always 
good. These towns are necessarily more or less temporary, yet the 
modern method of extending tram roads for a considerable distance 
insures the town's existence for ten to twenty years until the timber 
of the tributary territory is cut. They are far from resembling the shack 
towns which grow up around small mills. These mill towns are serv- 
ing and will serve as nuclei for the rural population which occupies the 
cut-over lands as the timber is removed. 39 

K lbid. 

88 In Physiographic Influences in the Development of Tennessee, cited by C. C. 
Colby, Economic Geography of North America, p. 251. 
80 F. V. Emerson, loc. cit. 


There are, however, many temporary camps and not all of the per- 
manent camps can be so well characterized. 40 

However modern and up to date many of these lumber towns 
have become they are in danger of one common fate, a fate that 
has already happened to many. When the merchantable timber 
is cut out, operations cease. The lumberman is not an agriculturist; 
for him the land is a residue to be sold so that he may move on 
to new fields of timber exploitation. The region is dotted with 
abandoned towns and mill sites left stranded by the passing of 
the naval stores and timber supplies. "In every case the cessation 
of operations has left in its wake people released from remunerative 
employment who had the alternative of seeking a new community 
or deriving a meager subsistence from a patchy agriculture pend- 
ing efforts to clear and improve the land." 41 "Their villages," 
writes a competent observer, "are nameless towns, their monuments 
huge piles of sawdust, their unwritten epitaph: The mill cut out. 
Locally the catastrophe has already arrived of a vanquished indus- 
try, unreplaced by any new industry remotely adequate to re- 
deem the situation." 42 In Louisiana, for example, when the average 
mill cuts its last log, the whistle blows and 77 men are out of a job. 43 

In the pine belt, an area as large as Texas, stretching from 
Virginia to Mississippi, many such cases of abandoned lumber 
towns are to be found. 

One lumber company with a chain of mills in the South lost one mill, 
burned: decided not to rebuild, and the town which it had created forth- 
with curled up and died. The country in which the firm was situated 
got to doing a little figuring and discovered that 85 per cent of its 
assessed values were derived from the lumber industry. . . . Whatever 
excuse there may be in excessive taxation, hostile legislation, etc. for the 
'get from under' policy of many of the South's foreign owned (region- 
ally speaking) lumber corporations, the fact that these companies are 
not conducted or financed by men who expect to remain in the South 
any longer than their timber lasts has operated powerfully against their 
practice of forestry. ... To these men a large acreage of cut-over land 
was no doubt an annoyance rather than an opportunity. 44 

40 Abraham Berglund, et. al., Labor in the Industrial South, ch. vi. 

tt Commercial Survey of the Southeast, p. 83. 

"R. D. Forbes, "The Passing of the Piney Woods," American Forestry, 29, p. 134. 


44 R. D. Forbes in Lumber World Review, November 10, 1921, cited in Deforested 
America, p. 32. 


The migratory nature of the lumber industry, forced to move 
in search of its supply of timber, is shown in the history of McNary, 
Louisiana. A great lumbering corporation wished to keep its 
laboring force intact, and McNary, unlike other lumber towns, 
refused to "curl up and die." 

The tragedy of the timberland was symbolized Monday when the last of 
the population of McNary, La., moved away in a 21 -coach train bound 
for the new village of McNary, Arizona. 

Twp months ago, Louisiana had this thriving town of 3,000 persons. 
As the forests became denuded of pines the employers of the villagers 
began looking about for a new site. They found it in Arizona. 

In two long special trains half the town was started westward to build 
a new village. Today the last of the inhabitants left. In 52 hours they 
will be at a point 80 miles from the new activity. Thence they will 
travel over a railroad just built into the heart of the timber country, 
and they will be back home in McNary. 4 ' 5 

There is nothing to be gained, as R. D. Forbes has said, by 
blaming the southern lumberman. 46 From the viewpoint of the 
natural economic processes involved he is the agent through which 
the American public has carried out a policy prevailing in all 
fields, the quick exploitation of natural resources. If he has 
hastened the cutting of immature stands, he has often been forced 
to it by heavy turpentining operations which threatened trees with 
death. Often he has come into a southern community as the rep- 
resentative of a "foreign" corporation to run counter to the folk- 
ways of the free range. He has been burned out time and again 
by cattlemen using his forest as free pasture. Cutting trees pre- 
maturely is one means of escape from fire. Moreover, the lumber- 
man has been forced to cut by merciless taxation. Lumber under 
the general property tax is forced to pay revenues as though it 
were an annual crop. When it is considered that twenty to forty 
years is none too long a time in which to mature timber, the in- 
justice of such measures can be seen. It is generally agreed by 
students of public finance that the only method of taxation which 
promotes forestry is the severance tax levied only when the crop 

48 H. H. Chapman, "Why the Town of McNary Moved," American Forestry, 
30, p. 589. 

""The Passing of the Piney Woods," American Forestry, 29, p. 136. 


is harvested. Lastly the lumberman's answer to the charge that 
he has not cut the forest clean must be that he has cut it as clean 
as the market demanded. When it is shown that scientific forestry 
and methods of conservation pay as profitably as the like invest- 
ment in other forms of business enterprise, then the lumberman 
or someone else will adopt them. 


The metamorphosis of valuable timber holdings into typical 
cut-over lands brings the piney woods to a new frontier stage. 
Of the 125 million acres originally in pine forests, comprising 
23 per cent of 12 southern states, 100 million acres have been cut- 
over. Up to the present io l / 2 million acres have been absorbed 
into agriculture. Over 33 million acres remain without new growth 
of trees. 47 The change is viewed with interest and apprehension 
by many people in the South. The state and local governing 
agencies are concerned, for, with the passing of timber, tax values 
suffer decreases so great that civic and educational services cannot 
be adequately supported. "In most of the counties of the pine 
country the improvements in the way of graveled roads, consol- 
idated schools, and public institutions came in a large way from 
taxes on standing timber which is now gone or is fast disappearing. 
The present farming population cannot long hold up the burden 
of taxation when it is all thrown upon them." 48 Railroads fear 
decreases in freight traffic that will curtail their revenues below 
operating costs. Towns and cities which have grown up as trad- 
ing and service centers for timbered areas are faced with loss of 
payrolls, falling real estate values, bankruptcy of mercantile es- 
tablishments, and the forced migration of leading members of 
their professional classes. The solution is to be sought in the 
satisfactory disposal of the cut-over lands. In many cases the 
owners are but too glad to be free of cut-ovfer lands at almost any 
price. They are lumbermen and if they are to remain in business 
feel they must be off to forests new. Many publicists have seen 
in these lands the nation's substitute for the free lands of the 
West. Obviously these cut-over lands must find their outlet in 
one of three forms of use: agriculture, grazing, or forestry. 

47 R. D. Forbes, ibid., pp. 131-36. 

48 S. W. Greene in Proceedings of Fifth Southern Forestry Congress, p. 48. 



For the purposes of agriculture these soils do not rank among 
the most productive in the South. They were avoided by emi- 
grants! on the westward trek who gave them the name of "pine 
barrens." It has been found that with the aid of commercial fer- 
tilizers their scanty crops of cotton, corn, and wheat can be meas- 
urably increased. In a period of agricultural surpluses, however, 
the increased cost of fertilization has operated to leave these lands 
outside the margins of cultivation. Moreover, with the expansion 
of cotton acreage in Western Texas, "abandonment of cotton farms 
is going on rather rapidly along the eastern Gulf Coast and the 
South Atlantic Coast." 49 Since these soils are "warm" and drain 
readily they make good truck soils. In certain areas immigrant 
groups like the Italians have with characteristic thrift and energy 
drained and built up soils for the production of strawberries and 
trucking crops until land values have risen from $10 to $100 an 
acre. 50 At present, however, the market is well supplied with 
early vegetables, fruit and truck crops, and yet hardly two per 
cent of the arable land is given to these crops. It is evident, holds 
O. E. Baker, that for the next 50 years at least 97 per cent of the 
newly added land supply must be used for other purposes than 
trucking. 51 These soils, however, are exceedingly productive of 
cowpeas, peanuts, and velvet beans, all plants valuable for stock 
feed and for enriching the soil. 

The last thing that should happen just now in regard to these 
lands is their alienation to small owners in small tracts. "Reason- 
able expectation of immigration to the South for the next thirty 
years does not justify a belief that more than one fifth of the yellow 
pine lands can be sold advantageously prior to 1950. Yet a hun- 
dred million acres will be for sale during that period." 52 In the 
opinion of S. W. Greene: "There are not enough surplus farmers 
in the United States to farm the Piney Woods and there will not 
be for two generations." 53 Colonization has failed and will con- 
tinue to fail "as long as land is sold at high prices in small tracts 
to clerks, conductors, mechanics, and other city people who know 
little about farming. The capital of such people is usually taken 

49 W. J. Spillman, Balancing the Farm Output, p. 49. 

60 F. V. Emerson, loc. cit., p. 243. 

51 Economic Geography, III, 60. 

62 J. B. Woods, "Problem of Southern Pine Lands," American Forestry 29, p. 539. 

88 Proceedings, Fifth Southern Forestry Congress, p. 48. 


up by the first payment and they have no means left to develop 
the farm." 54 

Utilization either as cattle ranches or reforestation is indicated. 
For such utilization it is necessary that cut-over lands be held 
together in large tracts. Questionnaires sent out by the Depart- 
ment of Agriculture in 1921 indicated that the holdings of southern 
lumber companies average 29,000 acres. 55 Large tracts under 
unified control have suggested to some students of the problem 
a return to the ranching conditions of the early West. Under 
present conditions this is impossible, for without extensive pasture 
improvement 600 acres of these lands will carry but 60 head of 
cattle. 56 No purchase of less than a section, and that at low terms, 
justifies entering the cattle business. Land sale companies which 
buy large stretches of cheap lands with the intention of making 
handsome profits by subdivision and resale have, accordingly, 
hindered the development of the region. Ultimately the cut-over 
lands of the South will be largely absorbed into the nation's agri- 
cultural production. At present, however, the situation in both 
trucking and staple crops suggests that the "development of the 
lands as a whole must be in large tracts consisting of several 
thousand acres." 57 Needless to say, to reassemble small tracts from 
the hands of agricultural colonists who have failed into large 
holdings would be a hopeless task. The future for a long time will 
remain with forestry and stock raising. It will be found profitable 
to discuss proposals for grazing the cut-over lands in the chapter 
on stock raising. 

Development of reforestation in the South waits upon the de- 
velopment of a national attitude toward forestry. A Department 
of Commerce report on conditions in the Southeast holds that the 
tendency among lumber millmen is toward perpetual operation. 
"The principle is to build smaller sawmills and have sufficient 
timber available each year to keep the mills running at capacity." 58 
Needless to say such conditions have not yet been realized. The 
shift in timber from a mining to a cropping system of utilization 
has hardly made a start. 

M U. S. D. A. Bulletin 827, p. 17. 

55 Ibid., p. 1 6. 

"MM., p. 1 8. 

"Ibid., p. 17. 

68 Commercial Survey of the Southeast, p. 83. 


D. L. Mason points out three periods of private forestry in 
America. 59 Before 1905 the Bureau of Forestry had worked out 
plans for forest management. A few private owners evinced no 
more than a mild curiosity and none of the plans was put into 
effect. From 1905 to 1918 the emphasis was placed on national 
forests and the view became current that cut-over lands were to 
pass into Federal or state hands for reforestation. Accordingly 
private owners began to regard the movement with more serious- 
ness. Beginning with 1918 the situation changed greatly. The 
war, the aircraft and rayon industries, and the use of the Panama 
Canal increased the demands for timber, led to larger profits for 
lumbermen, and focused attention on a national forestry policy. 60 
Hearings were held on reforestation, "mandatory" and "cooperative" 
forestry, paving the way in 1924 for the passage of the Clark-McNary 
bill which provided for Federal cooperation with the states in 
protection, conservation, and regrowth of forests. By 1920 a few 
private owners mostly in the redwood and southern pine districts 
had adopted the principle of perpetual operation with reforestation. 
Such firms have come to realize that without a new growth of 
timber coming on, their investments in sawmills, railways and 
towns, amounting in some cases to millions, were doomed. 

On the other hand, there are many experts who hold that the 
point has not yet been reached where private forestry will pay. 
Until very recently, the theory is, the country has had too much 
wood and too many forests. Cheap wood and timber growing are 
directly opposed. No form of timber growing can survive com- 
petition with virgin stands. When the scarcity of lumber becomes 
so great that the public is willing to pay for orchard-grown wood 
fiber, forestry will offer a sound business opportunity. At pres- 
ent it is a race between annual rings and compound interest in the 
bank. When the annual rings beat the compound interest no 
such business opportunity will be allowed to go begging. It 
is pointed out that growing trees in government forest reserves 
is not a commercial but a public project. And just so far as it is 
supported by taxation, public forestry serves to interfere with the 
interaction of supply and demand. To this extent it may handi- 

69 Journal of Forestry, Feb. 1926, cited in Major George P. Ahern, Deforested 
America, Senate Document 216, 1929, p. 30. 

*D. L. Mason and C. M. Stevens in Lumber World Review, December 10, 1923, 
cited in Deforested America, p. 29. 


cap private growers of timber who operate without such aid. The 
plain truth of the matter is that forestry does not as yet produce 
6 to 10 per cent dividends and manufacturing does. European 
forest projects operated as state subsidies show no such profits as 
would be necessary for private enterprise. Forestry investments 
stretch over too many generations. They "go against the grain 
of human nature, and nowhere on earth today is there any private 
forestry comparable to private investment in railroads, liberty bonds, 
or chemical concerns, and United States Steel." 61 

Reforestation, it must be remembered, is itself a natural proc- 
ess. "Throughout most of the eastern portion of the United States," 
says an authority, "the forest rather than grass or brush is the ulti- 
mate type of vegetation." 62 When abandoned, these areas will in 
course of time be recaptured by forests similar to the ones orig- 
inally found on their soil. The classic example of the process is 
the large acreage of cotton land in Virginia and North Carolina, 
abandoned during the Civil War, later found reclothed in sec- 
ond growth timber. Moreover, early lumbering conditions were 
much more favorable to reforestation. Before lumber became high 
and before the day of the steam skidder "there was never any 
dearth of small trees left on the land after logging." It did not pay 
to cut the small timber, and logging with animals did not break 
many down. Subsequently these trees bore abundant seed, and 
reforestation was swift and complete. 63 

To recapture abandoned agricultural land, trees must possess 
seeds that may be easily transported, be able to grow in the open, 
and be capable of rapid growth. To insure regrowth of the original 
forest trees something like the same forest situation must prevail. 
To cut out a forest, however, is to destroy the natural environ- 
ment of the seedlings of the species. If no "seed trees" are 
left standing the chances for regrowth are made much less. A 
Louisiana law requires that two seed trees per acre be left after 
cutting. The practice of cutting all timber leads to what is called 
"succession," that is the trees that spring up are not necessarily of 

81 See for theory of this type C. M. Stevens, in Journal of Forestry, May and June 
1925; C. A. Schenck, Journal of Forestry, November 1926, January 1927, cited in 
Deforested America, pp. 30-32. 

62 P. L. Buttrick, "Forest Growth on Abandoned Agricultural Land," Scientific 
Monthly, V, 80-91. 

63 R. D. Forbes, "Passing of the Piney Woods," American Forestry, 29, p. 135. 


the same variety as those cut. When a white pine forest is cut 
it is succeeded by such hardwoods as maples, beech, hemlock, and 
yellow birch. This is because their seedlings, more "tolerant" of 
shade than pine seedlings, are already established in the soil. How- 
ever, when a hardwood forest is cut off and burned over poor 
trees such as birch and ash spring up. They are better able to live 
in the relatively poor soil. 64 "Old field trees" are accordingly in 
most areas inferior varieties of subordinate importance in com- 
merce. In this respect, however, the South is more fortunate. "Lob- 
lolly pine, a tree of naturally limited distribution seeds in abundantly 
on abandoned fields in that section to the almost entire exclusion of 
the long-leaf itself." 65 In some soils scrub oak replaces the virgin 
pine, but loblolly pine, of more commercial importance than any 
other old field stand in the country, can hardly be regarded as an 
inferior tree. 

Approximately one-fourth as much land is planted to trees 
each year as is cut over. Up until 1924 about one and a half million 
acres had been planted in the United States while 81 million acres 
of barren and fireswept land that once grew trees remained to 
be reforested. 66 All signs point to the South as the premier scene 
of this activity when it comes. "Three to five years of fire pro- 
tection," writes Henry C. Wallace, "in the cut-over pine country 
of South Georgia is sufficient to start a healthy young forest beyond 
the threat of fires and pigs that will put our unplowed acres to 
work growing a profitable crop for which there is not a glutted 
market; repopulate our deserted forest regions and give the earth 
and the people something to do." 67 The South may be expected 
to lead in forestry for several reasons. First, yellow pine furnishes 
a type of lumber well established in channels of commerce and 
proved capable of many uses. Second, in the South all the climatic 
requirements for rapid growth come to focus in the pine, the fast- 
est growing tree outside the tropics. Moreover, the South seems 
the only area in which forestry can be operated alongside other 
paying ventures. Grazing for the first cycle of growth while the 
trees are yet young, followed by thinning for poles and pinewood, 

"Huntington and Williams, Business Geography, pp. 183-84. 

65 P. L. Buttrick, loc. cit., p. 84. 

03 U. S. D. A. Farmers' Bulletin 1417, p. 13. 

67 "Forestry and Our Land Problem," American Forestry, 29, p. 15. 


can be followed by turpentining at intervals after the trees reach a 

growth of 15 years, followed finally by cutting of timber. 

Unless the pasture is overcrowded cattle graze among young 
pines without molesting them. Cut-over lands covered with young 
trees are thus dual purpose lands. Reforestation and hog raising 
are admittedly impossible companions. Because of his peculiar 
fondness for the juicy tap root the roaming razorback is the great- 
est enemy of the young long leaf pine. The goat, however, because 
of his hardihood in keeping down the briars and brambles that 
spring up on cut-over land is claimed by the forester as his prin- 
cipal ally. A goat, in the opinion of one forester, would rather 
have blackberry briars than candy to eat. 

Real conflicts of interest have arisen in the pine belt where the 
cattle belong to the native farmers and the lands to lumber com- 
panies. Again the South faces a frontier heritage. Whether the 
land is forested, cut-over or reforested, the native farmers burn of! 
the growth each year. The situation is well described by S. W. 
Greene in an address before the Southern Forestry Congress. 

Under the present conditions in most sections the ideas of the forester 
and the cattleman are at odds. The forester says the range must be 
fenced and protected from fire for another crop of pines and the 
stockman says it must be left open and burned annually for his use. 
The difference is largely an economic one. The man who under- 
takes to grow another crop of timber owns a large tract of land, and 
has a permanent interest in its future development, while the man who 
favors open range and annual burning, as a rule pastures his cattle on 
land that does not belong to him and in which he has no future interest. 
The cattleman is represented by practically every citizen in the com- 
munity and altho their [sic] individual holdings of cattle are very small 
it is a real asset to them [sic]. 

The native stockmen have known nothing but open range for gen- 
erations. The range has been free for all since the land was public 
domain. The owner of the land bought it for the timber and until that 
was gone and he wished to put the land to some productive use, there 
was no question as to the right of the local people to use the range. 
Long established customs are hard to change and it takes time and edu- 
cation to accomplish it. You can't legislate against custom. The lum- 
berman does not want his skidder legislated out of existence and a 
great many people look at reforestation as a fore-runner of a stock law 
which would close the open range. It would be best to go easy on 


the matter and establish some middle ground if possible. It will take 
a general country-wide sentiment against fires to stop them. The state 
troops couldn't do it under martial law. It is a problem of getting the 
cattlemen to see that they can raise stock without burning the woods and 
getting their help to control fires in return for the use of the pasture. 68 

Farmers believe that burning the woods each spring improves the 
pasturage and reduces the menace from boll weevils and ticks. 

Many methods have been tried in the effort to reconcile grazing 
and forestry. The Crossett Lumber Company has successfully se- 
cured the cooperation of the native population in its program of 
reforestation by appointing thirty native farmers living in their 
respective areas to act as fire wardens. An even better method of 
avoiding the conflict is for the lumbering company to buy up the 
native cattle and operate the ranch themselves. The experience of 
the Southern Pine Lumber Company of Texarkana, Texas, is il- 
luminating in this connection. 

About ten years ago we started a grazing proposition, fencing into pas- 
tures approximately 35 thousand acres of cut-over land. . . . When we 
started the grazing undertaking we had an antagonistic native element 
to deal with. They had been running their cattle and hogs on this free 
range for many years besides feeling free to hunt and fish on the 
premises at their will. To overcome as much of their antagonism as 
possible we proposed to the cattlemen to buy their cattle, but told those 
who were running hogs that we were not interested in the razorback 
hogs and that they would have to come out. The cattlemen, in the 
main, sold us their cattle which constituted the foundation herd. Soon 
after our fences were built, they were cut half way between every post 
for perhaps a distance of half a mile. No efforts were made to appre- 
hend the perpetrators because we were certain that a large number were 
implicated and that they were prepared to secure an alibi [sic] if neces- 
sary. We simply repaired the fences and shipped in bloodhounds. We 
still keep the bloodhounds, but there has never been any more fence 
cutting. Some of the owners of the hogs came and with our assistance 
gathered and took the hogs out. The hogs belonging to those who did 
not do this were gathered and turned out. Then came the question of 
stopping the hunting and fishing practice. This was necessary because 
of depredation and damage resulting from this practice. We tried to 
keep the hunters out by peaceable means, but wherever this failed we 

68 Proceedings, 1923, pp. 48-49. 


resorted to injunction proceedings against different individuals and this 

has proven effectual to a large extent. 69 

Cattle grazing on the cut-over lands of this firm is found to be 
established on a paying basis. The enterprise, however, accord- 
ing to Mr. Gilbert, would not show any profit if the firm had to 
charge to the cattle ranch a rental on the land. 

Grazing pays in the early stages of forestry. Unless the pastures 
are seriously overstocked the cattle do not damage the young pine 
seedlings. Moreover, the range riders also serve as fire wardens to 
keep fire out of the pineries and pastures. Grazing on lands de- 
voted to reforestation, however, has its days limited. The mature 
pine forests, whether virgin or second growth, is practically clear 
of all undergrowth. As soon as the timber gets big enough to 
shade the ground there is much less grass. Thus while it may 
be possible to use grazing to defray in the South some of the cost 
of the early stage of growing young trees, forestry and grazing 
will not go hand in hand. A discussion of the use of cut-over 
lands for beef production is found in Chapter VII. 

When forestry is once put on a permanent basis the pine belt 
will possess the advantage of profitable by-products of its timber 
such as can be found in no other region. As soon as slash and 
long-leaf pine reach a growth ranging from 15 years on they can 
be worked for rosin and turpentine. By use of the new technology 
the trees can be turpentined for periods of 30 to 50 years without 
injuring their lumber qualities. Mr. O. L. H. Wernicke, of the 
Pine Institute of America, has estimated that the annual yield of 
gum from 100 thrifty second growth pines will at current prices 
bring $30 per acre. 70 The cost of gathering should not exceed 
$20 per acre thus leaving an income of $10 per acre over a long 
period of time. No other* timber belt can offer such easy or con- 
sistent returns to reforestation. In addition, the process of thinning 
for a good stand furnishes poles and pulpwood that find ready sale. 
At the close of the period of turpentining the forest land will be 
covered with lumber trees to the amount of 10,000 to 15,000 board 
feet per acre. At present prices the stumpage value of such lumber 

88 L. D. Gilbert, General Manager, before Ninth Southern Forestry Congress, 
Proceedings, 1927, pp. 86-87. 

TO In "Growing Pine Timber for Profit in the South," Forest Service, U. S. D. 
A. Miscellaneous Publication 24, 1928, pp. 9-10. 


is over $10 per thousand. By the time the timber matures its 
monetary value will undoubtedly be much greater. 

Instances may be cited to support the opinion of Forest Chief 
W. B. Greeley that the South is leading the country today in in- 
dustrial forestry. 71 The Crossett Lumber Company of Crossett, 
Arkansas, after establishing a forestry department undertook a 
survey of all their logged-over lands. 72 Reserving for sale the 
lands most suitable for farming they divided the land suitable for 
timber into five classes: severely burned type, seed-tree type, pole 
type, old-field type, and hardwood type. A definite policy suitable 
for each type has been worked out and will be applied. The 
Southern Railway began in January 1925 a forestry demonstration 
on 12,000 acres of its lands near Pregnall and Ridgeville, South 
Carolina. A forester with three assistants began a program of 
fire protection, cutting off all merchantable trees in order to re- 
plant with slash and long leaf. A moderate profit has been secured 
from both turpentining and lumbering operations and the stage 
is now set for planting with fire-resistant carpet grass, and gum 
producing long-leaf and slash pines. 73 The Great Southern Lum- 
ber Company of Bogalusa has 140,000 acres, mostly well stocked 
with young pine. Recently they purchased 80,000 acres of second 
growth timber to mature in 10 to 20 years. They have reforested 
18,000 acres by setting out small nursery-grown pine trees, a thou- 
sand per acre. Says the forester for the company: 

We can see pictured for the future in the South reconstructed forests 
on sound business administration supporting permanent and prosperous 
industries. The sawmills, paper mills, creosote plants, naval stores pro- 
duction, and woodworking factories of every description, have already 
begun to take the place of speeding up the cut and then moving away. 74 

Three frontiers have passed in the piney woods. Long ago the 
day ceased to be when timber was deadened, cut and burned only 
for the sake of the land. The exploitation of naval stores with 
crude and reckless technology has had its limits set by nature. To 
no less extent has the frontier of inexhaustible areas of virgin tim- 
ber been reached and passed. The nation has come to the point where 

71 U. S. D. A. Miscellaneous Publication 24, p. 2. 

72 J. W. Watzek in U. S. D. A. Miscellaneous Publication 24, pp. 10-13. 

73 J. C. Williams in U. S. D. A. Miscellaneous Publication 24, pp. 2-3. 

74 J. K. Johnson, U. S. D. A. Miscellaneous Publication 24, pp. 8-9. 


forests must be regarded not as a mine but as a crop. While the 
rugged individualism of the frontier may have proved competent 
to exploit virgin stands, it has not solved the problem of those 
perennials whose periods of growth exceed the natural span of 
human life. The experience of Europe in first destroying and 
then being forced to replace many of her forests suggests that the 
task may better be delegated to the state, that corporate entity en- 
dowed with immortality. The state, however, owes the forester 
the immediate duty of revising taxation that penalizes reforestation. 
Once a forest policy, private or public, is adopted, the natural ad- 
vantages of the South will assure it a foremost place. No other 
area can match the region's climatic resources with the possibilities 
of multi-level forestry. Grazing, the utilization of pulp wood, 
turpentining, and naval stores can be combined in the pine woods 
to divide the overhead costs of timber growing. By planting in 
cycles a large lumber company can stabilize the annual cutting 
activities to fit in with the multi-level forestry. It remains with 
the business man, the lumberman, and the forestry experts of the 
nation and the South to show whether the pine belt stands at the 
frontier of an adequate industrial forestry. If they prove unequal, 
the state will sooner or later take over the task. 




EARLY AMERICA was unique in its lack of animals fitted for 
domestication. Although the Indians of the plains based their 
material culture to a large extent upon the buffalo, no Indian so- 
cieties in North America possessed any domesticated animal except 
the dog. To the Spanish must be traced the introduction of live 
stock in America. In all their explorations along the Gulf of 
Mexico they took droves of animals, many of whom were lost or 
were stolen by the Indians. De Soto carried with him into Florida 
(1539-41) "thirteen sowes and had by this time (about one year 
later) three hundred swine." 1 Other dispersed herds became the 
foundation of herds of wild cattle, horses, and droves of wild 
pigs in the Southwest. Native cattle on the border still show 
strains of Spanish blood, and the famous Texas long horn was 
an adaptation of that stock to the wild range. The Jesuit Mis- 
sions introduced animals and their husbandry. As early as 1773 
five missions in California possessed 205 head of cattle, 94 sheep, 
67 horses, and 77 mules. 2 Cattle grazing early became a leading 
industry of Mexico, Cuba, and southwest United States, which 
shipped great stores of hides and tallow to Spain. 

The domestic animals brought to Virginia in the early Colonial 
days were turned out to shift for themselves and multiplied rapidly. 
In 1609 they had "six Mares and a Horse; five or six hundred 
swine; as many Hennes and Chickens; some Goats some Sheepe." 3 
The animals were probably small and the lack of care probably 
conduced to inferior quality. 4 Wild animals made away with 
some, but Indians and settlers made away with even more. Ex- 

1 Lyman Carrier, Beginnings of Agriculture in America, p. 109. 

9 Ibid., p. no. 

'Quoted by Carrier, op. cit., p. 120. 

*lbid., p. 134. 



porting of all hides was prohibited in 1631 and an embargo was 
laid on sheep and mares in 1657. By 1668 horses had become 
plentiful and the law was repealed. 


The whole trend of cattle raising in America was modified by 
its forced adjustment to that socio-geographic complex, the fron- 
tier. In what might be called the hunting stage of early settle- 
ment the presence of wild -game both gave the pioneers an 
abundance of meat in their diet and obviated the necessity of 
raising stock for slaughter. Meat eating long remained a marked 
trait in the food habits of Americans, partly no doubt as a survival 
from frontier conditions. Any frontier encompassed by Indians, 
hostile or friendly, was further restricted in stock raising by their 
depredations on cattle. An historian writes of early Kentucky : 

Though cattle could easily have been raised by grazing them on the 
natural pastures in the summer and upon the extensive canebrakes in the 
winter, if the inhabitants had been living in a state of peace, yet such was 
not their condition. Surrounded by a savage foe, who was ever on the 
watch to seize upon the property or take the lives of the settlers, if they 
had raised cattle to any extent it would only have been for the use of the 
enemy, and the better to enable him to prolong his predatory incursions, 
and thereby do them the greater mischief. Thus situated they could 
rear no more cattle than they could secure within their stockade forts in 
time of danger. A few cows for milk and butter, and as many of the 
young as was necessary to keep up the stock and to supply the emigrants 
were as much as they could aim at, in the early period of our history. 
But game was plenty and the same rifle which was necessary for their 
protection, was amply sufficient to afford an abundant supply of bear, 
deer, and buffalo meat. 5 

Where comparatively free from hostile Indians, the southern 
frontier furnished a favorable locale for cattle raising. The poor 
roads and the great distance to markets made cattle especially im- 
portant to frontiersmen, for live stock were self-transporting. John 
Pinkerton, traveling through North Carolina in 1747, was much 
amazed at the extent and manner of cattle grazing on the frontier: 

Black cattle have mightily increased since the first settling of the colony. 
About forty years ago it was reckoned a great deal to have three or four 

8 De Bow, Resources of the South, II, 403. 


cows, now some people have a thousand head; and for one man to have 
two hundred is very common. The cows graze in the forest, and the 
calves being separated and kept in pastures fenced in, they return home 
at night to suckle them; they are first milked, then shut up in a fold all 
night, milked again in the morning and then turned out into the woods. 
Here are hogs in abundance; they go daily to feed in the woods, where 
they rove several miles, feeding on nuts and roots; but having a shelter 
made at home, to keep them warm, and something given them to eat, 
they generally return in the evening. The beef and pork that are raised 
here find a good market in the sugar islands. 6 

Cattle production increased at a rapid pace in the South, and 
the cowpens came more or less to dominate the agricultural map. 
A cowpen was a partly cleared area in the forest, often a large 
acreage in canebrakes and peavines. 7 The resemblance of the 
cowpens to the ranching system which later prevailed on the great 
plains area is significant. "There were annual round-ups and brand- 
ing of calves, conflicts between overlapping interests, and long 
drives of herds to tidewater markets. Cattle rustlers plied their 
trade and were summarily dealt with when caught. Might was 
the law of the range then as later. These cattlemen ever alert, 
always armed, fearless and resourceful, were an effective protection 
to the tidewater planters against attacks from the Indians of the 
Mississippi region." 8 

In the back country along the headwaters of the Susquehanna, 
Potomac, James, and the Broad, "men as rough as the wilderness 
they occupied" engaged in cattle raising. An officer under Braddock 
has given us our best picture of these frontier ranchers: 

From the heart of the Settlements we are now got into the Cow-pens; 
the Keepers of these are very extraordinary kind of Fellows, they drive 
up their Herds on Horseback, and they had need do so, for their cattle 
are near as wild as Deer; a Cow-pen generally consists of a very large 
cottage or House in the Woods, with about four-score or one hundred 
acres inclosed with high Rails and divided; a small inclosure they keep 
for Corn, for the family, the rest is the Pasture in which they keep their 
calves; but the manner is far different from anything you ever saw; they 
may perhaps have a stock of four to five hundred to a thousand Head of 
Cattle belonging to a Cow-pen, these run as they please in the Great 

8 John Pinkerton, Travels, II, 345; quoted by Carrier, p. 197. 

7 Turner, Frontier in American History, p. 16. 

8 Carrier, op. cit., p. 215. 


Woods, where there are no inclosures to stop them. In the month of 
March the Cows begin to drop their Calves, then the Cow-pen Master 
with all his men, rides out to see and drive up the Cows with all their 
newly fallen Calves; they being weak cannot run away so as to escape, 
therefore are easily drove up and the Bulls and other Cattle follow them; 
and they put these Calves into the Pasture and every Morning and 
Evening suffer the Cows to come and suckle them which done they let 
the Cows out into the great Woods to shift for their Food as well as they 
can; whilst the Calf is sucking one Tit of the Cow, the Woman of the 
Cow-pen is milking one of the other Tits, so that she steals some milk 
from the Cow, who thinks she is giving it to the Calf; soon as the Cow 
begins to go dry and the Calf grows Strong, they mark them, if they 
are Males they cut them and let them go into the woods. Every year in 
September and October they drive up the Market Steers, that are fat and 
of a proper age, and kill them; they say they are fat in October, but I am 
sure they are not so in May, June and July; . . . they reckon that a 
cowpen for every 100 Head of Cattle brings about 40 pounds Sterling 
per Year. The Keepers live chiefly upon milk, for out of their vast 
Herds they do condescend to tame Cows enough to keep their Family in 
Milk, Whey, Curds, Cheese and Butter; they also have Flesh in Abun- 
dance such as it is, for the lot of the old Cows and the lean Calves that 
are like to die. The Cow-Pen Men are hardy People, are almost con- 
tinually on Horseback, being obliged to know the Haunts of their Cattle. 

You see, Sir, what a wild set of Creatures our Englishmen grow into 
when they lose Society, and it is surprising to think how many advan- 
tages they throw away, which our industrious country-men would be 
glad of: out of many hundred Cows they will not give themselves the 
trouble of milking more than will maintain their Family. 9 

The very ease and cheapness of cattle raising on the frontier 
placed its stamp on the breed. The free range placed the value 
of cattle on the number rather than the quality of live stock. In 
the winter cattle were driven into the canebrakes to range for them- 
selves. The cost of feed was thus saved, but in the spring they 
turned up half starved and it took the summer for them to put 
on normal weight. Cow drivers from the South and the back 
country took their droves to Charleston, Philadelphia, and New 
York to market. At the close of the War of 1812 herds of more 

8 Extracts of Letters from an Officer, quoted in A. B. Hulbert, Paths of Inland 
Commerce, pp. 22-24. 


than a thousand cattle, were met going to Pennsylvania to fatten 
for the Philadelphia market. 10 

What is meant by the survival of frontier practices in the case 
of cattlq is well shown in a comment found in the First Annual 
Report of the Missouri State Board of Agriculture: 

The method has been to let cattle run through the summer and get fat; 
sell off what can be spared and keep the rest on the least possible amount 
of roughness that will subsist an animal and keep strength enough in the 
body to begin with in the coming spring; in this way it takes one third 
of the summer to recover the losses of winter starvation. I have no doubt 
but one-half of the entire neat cattle of this country with horses, mules, 
sheep and hogs go through the winter season with no more food than 
would be required to feed them well two weeks. As a result cows weigh 
375 pounds and four year old steers reach 475 pounds. The Pointer is 
the universal hog here and a meaner one can not be found in any 
country. 11 

The passing of frontier conditions in some respects injured the 
cause of stock raising. In hilly areas the rougher uplands had been 
used for pasturage. Later they were planted to corn and put under 
tillage by the plow for which they were in no wise fitted by topog- 
raphy. The result was erosion and the injury of fair grazing 
lands. Close grazing is held in some regions to have killed the 
blue stem grass while in others the cessation of fires resulted 
in the growth of weeds, prairie grass, sassafras sprouts, and post 
oak runners which took the place of native pasturage. 

Well fitted to the frontier type of agriculture in the deep South 
is the mule. To that Virginia farmer, George Washington, must be 
given the credit of foreseeing the adaptation of the mule to southern 
agriculture. A "pair of Jacks" of the Andulusian breed presented 
to him by the king of Spain at the solicitation of Lafayette were 
probably the first asses imported into the South for breeding pur- 
poses. In 1832 Henry Clay, "gallant Harry of the West," imported 
the first blooded Catalonian Jack into Kentucky. The adoption of 
the mule admirably suited to the climatic and labor conditions as 
the general work animal was an important step in the beginnings 
of southern agriculture. 12 

10 Turner, op. tit., p. 16. 

"Quoted by C. O. Sauer, Geography of the Ozarf( Highlands, p. 161. 

12 The South in the Building of the Nation, V, 82. 



Frontier farming as a rule expended very little care on improv- 
ing the quality of its animals. At the same time the pioneer en- 
vironment produced from the original stock types which, like 
the long horn steer and razorback hog of minstrel song and story, 
were adapted to survive in the wilderness and canebrake. The 
stock also developed some qualities of acclimation which enabled 
them to survive after a fashion diseases fatal to imported cattle. 
If the frontier, however, did little to improve the quality of its an- 
imals it was kinder to their quantity. 

It, in fact, seems a safe conclusion that the spread of the planta- 
tion caused a decline in the number of live stock in the South. Be- 
tween 1850 and 1860 there was an absolute decline in the total num- 
ber of cattle found in the states of Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, 
Mississippi, and Louisiana; and a less than normal increase oc- 
curred in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama. On the other 
hand, Arkansas, Texas, and the border states of Maryland and 
Missouri showed notable increases with Texas far outstripping the 
rest. 13 The area of declining cattle follows in rough outline the 
plantation regions. This trend has been a continuous one. Statistics 
of live stock production in such a southern state as North Caro- 
lina show that there has been a progressive decline in the number 
of swine, horses, and cattle per inhabitant since iSyo. 14 This trend 
fits in with the urbanization of the South, the one crop system of 
agriculture, and the decreasing use of meat in the American diet, 
as well as the westward trend of ranching. It is true, of course, 
that none of these factors played significant roles in the advance 
of the plantation. The decreasing importance of live stock in the 
1850*5 must then be sought in the characteristics of the plantation 
system itself. 

The plantation was not fitted for stock raising. It was pri- 
marily an industrial organization for the employment of servile 
labor in the routine production of staple crops, mainly cotton. That 
slaves, however valuable for cotton and sugar, were of little use 
in handling live stock was argued by such a pro-slavery Democrat 

w South in the Building of the Nation, V, 254. 

14 H. M. Smedes, Agricultural Graphics, University of North Carolina Extension 
Bulletin, pp. 42-47. 


as Jacob De Cordova. 15 It is notable that slaves were not intro- 
duced in the stock ranges of Western Texas. 

The care of blooded stock and dairy cows is admittedly a task 
for experts, and slaves were not trained to expertness in this field. 
Olmsted's Journeys are full of accounts of neglect and brutalities 
lavished upon live stock by the slaves who tended them. Here 
we have one instance where he comes near blaming the Negro 
as a Negro rather than slavery as a system for a deplorable state 
of affairs. He accounts for the prevalence of the mule in southern 
agriculture in a characteristic passage: 

So, too, when I ask why mules are so universally substituted for horses 
on the farm, the first reason given, and confessedly the most conclusive 
one, is, that horses cannot bear the treatment that they always must get 
from negroes; horses are always soon foundered or crippled by them, 
while mules will bear cudgelling, and lose a meal or two now and then, 
and not be materially injured, and they do not take cold or get sick if 
neglected or overworked. But I do not need to go further than to the 
window of the room in which I am writing, to see, at almost any time, 
treatment of cattle that would insure the immediate discharge of the 
driver, by almost any farmer owning them at the North. 16 

It is true, however, that under slavery, cattle, hogs, and sheep 
were to be found upon the vast majority of plantations. Many 
slaveholders "took a great deal of pride in having a few well-bred 
cattle of the Devon and Shorthorn breeds on their plantations, 
and the blood of these cattle is still found in the native southern 
herds in a few rich-red, big-framed cows." 17 We know that im- 
proved Shorthorns were imported into Virginia by a Maryland 
firm, Miller and Gough, as early as 1783. In 1817 Colonel Lewis 
Saunders imported his famous herd of Shorthorns into Kentucky, 
and in the same year Henry Clay imported Herefords for his es- 
tate near Lexington. 18 The border state of Kentucky is regarded 
by some students as having taken the lead in production of fine live 
stock from 1840 to 1870. Kentucky, it must be remembered, had 
her blue grass and was not a true plantation state. Fine horses 

15 Texas: Her Resources and Public Men, pp. 189-90. 

16 Olmsted, A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States, I, 51. 

17 F. W. Farley, "Growth of the Beef -Cattle Industry in the South," Separate 
749, U. S. D. A. Yearbook 1917, p. 4. 

18 The South in the Building of the Nation, V, 254. 


were the pride of slaveholders in Virginia and Kentucky, and 
horse racing was regarded as the true sport of kings and planters. 
The exploits of the troublesome "instantaneous cavalry" units in 
the Confederate Army are a tribute to the blood and breeding of 
their steeds. For example, the great Kentucky horse, Gaines Den- 
mark, was ridden for two years in Morgan's command. Weakened 
by the hard military service, he died in 1864. On the whole, the 
conclusion seems justified that the plantation turned the emphasis 
in frontier farming from live stock to staple crops, decreased the 
number of cattle grown, and at the same time improved the blood 
of a small upper class of equine and bovine aristocracy owned by 
the planters. 

The Civil War left the live stock industry of the South pros- 
trate. 19 Thousands of sheep, hogs and cattle had been sacrificed 
for the needs of the warring armies or seized by foragers. Al- 
though the best blooded horses of Kentucky and Virginia were used 
as mounts in the cavalry units, enough of them escaped battle and 
raids to enable those regions to continue the breeding of fine stock. In 
western Texas, beyond the range of hostilities, cattle ranching contin- 
ued undisturbed except for occasional depredations by Indians. The 
earliest recovery was found in the border states such as Kentucky 
and Virginia. In the economic and political disorganization fol- 
lowing the break-up of the plantation there could be little provision 
for stock raising. In such a period of poverty former slaves while 
seeking to find a place in the new order were often reduced to 
the point of preying upon anything edible. A report of the United 
States Commissioner of Agriculture for 1867 on live stock in the 
South says: "Little has been done in this direction; the predatory 
character of a portion of the population has, in many respects, re- 
duced the stock of hogs and sheep to a minimum. ... Of the en- 
tire stock of domestic animals, in certain sections of the cotton 
states, less than one pound in every hundred is furnished by the 
care of man. 20 


The Cotton Belt in 1919 contained almost as much live stock 
as the Corn Belt, about 15,000,000 units. This is due to its large 
acreage, for the Corn Belt possesses 94 animal units per square mile 

19 The South in the Building of the Nation, VI, 136. 

90 The South in the Building of the Nation, VI, quoted p. 137. 



UTS qi3 


> Jj w'^ 


ill II 



w - g c 


to the South's 34. 21 This situation testifies to the lack of forage 
crops in| the South. There are only six states in the Union with 
less than ten per cent of their crop land planted to hay and forage. 
They all belong to the southern South. Only three others have 
less than 15 per cent; they are South Carolina, Arkansas, and 
Oklahoma. North Carolina ranges between 15 and 20 per cent; 
Tennessee and Kentucky, 20 to y). 22 Moreover, in the South 
horses and mules constitute a larger proportion of the live stock 
than in any other agricultural region. This is partly due to the 
heavy demand of cotton culture for horse and mule labor. 

The one crop system does not furnish a complete explanation 
of this state of affairs. The South has never been a good grass and 
hay country. Those early explorers who wrote of the "goodly 
meadows" near the southern coasts did not know how inferior 
are the salt marsh grasses for forage. 23 In the Middle Atlantic 
States early settlers found the native vegetation of broom straw 
"which is as dry as a stick and as yellow as straw, insomuch that 
nothing will taste it." 24 Further south in the pine barrens "the 
most natural grass on this soil," wrote an observer before 1775, 
"is of a very harsh nature, and the cattle are not at all fond of it, 
it is known by the name, of wire grass; and they only eat it while 
young; for the procuring it young or renewing this kind of pas- 
ture the woods are frequently fired." 25 

In 1883 a Mr. Charles Mohr of Mobile had collected in South 
and Middle Alabama alone, 132 species belonging to 53 genera of 
native grasses. 26 The South, however, is not naturally a grass 
country, and the possibility of forming a permanent close turf, ex- 
cept in the limestone regions of Kentucky, Tennessee, and the 
Valley of Virginia, has long been seriously doubted. 27 The far- 
ther north one goes in the United States the more likely is one to 
find good grass, densely sodded. Grass thrives best in cool, moist 

21 U. S. D. A. Yearboo1(, 1923, pp. 328-29. 

22 Ibid., p. 33. 

23 Lyman Carrier, Beginnings of Agriculture in America, p. 26. 

24 John Mitchell, The Present Status of Great Britain and North America, p. 153; 
quoted by Carrier, op. cit., p. 29. 

25 Bernard Romans, Natural History of East and West Florida, p. 16; quoted by 
Carrier, op. cit., p. 29. 

26 John L. Campbell, and W. H. RufJner, A Physical Survey in Georgia, Alabama 
and Mississippi, p. 14. 

"Lewis F. Carr, America Challenged, p. 113. 


climate and the grasses of the South are neither strong nor abundant 
enough to support dairy herds in full production or fill out grass- 
fed beef cattle. 28 The leached and eroded soils of the southeastern 
slopes are hardly fitted for producing good forage crops unless 
pains are taken to increase the fertility of the land. 

Another fact of geography must be taken into account. The 
higher rainfall for all the areas of the Cotton Belt except its ex- 
treme western end results in autumn showers that make the rais- 
ing of hay hazardous. From North Carolina to Louisiana many 
farmers attempt to produce hay, but a large part of the crop is 
lost each year in the curing and much of the rest is damaged by 
untimely rains. More dependable autumn weather is found in 
states farther from the Atlantic and the Gulf, particularly Arkan- 
sas, Oklahoma, and parts of Texas, all of which have larger acreages 
of hay. Accordingly, in most of the cotton states, not enough hay 
is produced for home use and much has to be imported from the 
Middle West. Since the freight charges often equal the original 
cost, southern planters pay a high price for this. If methods of 
curing suitable to the climate were worked out, hay would be 
more generally grown. It would not, however, be valuable as a 
cash crop in the South! except where a few farmers in each com- 
munity grew it for the local market. 

The great drawback to forage crops in the South, however, is 
not excessive rainfall so much as lack of grasses adapted to southern 
conditions. The high producing crops of the North, timothy, red 
clover and blue grass, have littlq use as forage in the South. Itj 
is not probable, says the United States Department of Agriculture, 
that any hay grass possessing in the South an importance correspond- 
ing to timothy in the North will ever be discovered. 29 

Of the native grasses Johnson grass makes a heavy yield of ex- 
cellent hay, but it is such a pest in fields where it is not wanted 
that its planting in clean fields is not ordinarily recommended. 
Furthermore, after the first two or three years, the thick, heavy 
rootstocks become so matted as to cut down its yield. 30 Crab 
grass is another native grass used as a volunteer hay crop. It 
grows on especially sandy soils but is also a great nuisance to 


20 S. M. Tracy, "Forage for the Cotton Belt," Farmers' Bulletin 1125, 1920, p. 5. 
30 Ibid., p. 9. 


crop lands. Many of the failures of crimson clover in the South 
are due to lack of proper inoculation, but this clover is not likely 
to succeed farther west than Louisiana because of dry periods. 31 
Of the introduced forage plants alfalfa is undoubtedly the best 
legume for permanent meadows but does well in only a small 
part of the Cotton Belt. The rich soil with the abundance of lime 
that it demands is found in the black prairies and certain well- 
drained alluvial regions. Alfalfa has definitely failed on dry clay 
uplands, in the pine woods, and in the Gulf Coast region. 32 

The need for forage and hay in the South is shown by the 
fact reported by Lewis F. Carr that every year thousands of young 
cattle are shipped from the old South to the North and West for 
better growth on stronger grasses. 33 The old trails from Texas 
to the North and from the Southwest to Wyoming were both used 
for driving stock to better pastures. 

A good hay plant is one that makes a large growth, is leafy, 
has fine and tender stems, is palatable, and grows tall and erect 
enough to be cut with a machine. The South possesses one grass 
suitable for permanent pastures that ordinarily does not fit the re- 
quirements for hay, Bermuda. "The Bermuda grass," wrote an 
enthusiast in 1883, "will take fast hold on the most hopeless looking 
gullies and in barren soils where no other grass will grow. And 
once lodged it holds on and spreads, even under hard pasturing . . . 
bears any amount of drought and close pasturing; is very sweet 
and nutritious when young . . . furnishes a grass sod which for 
density and freedom from foreign growth we have never seen 
surpassed." 34 That the enthusiasm is not misplaced is shown 
by more scientific and restrained language from the Department of 

Bermuda grass is the foundation of the best permanent pastures in the 
South, especially on clayey soils. It endures severe drought and long 
flooding by water and makes excellent grazing from late spring until 
heavy frost. On rich and fairly moist clayey soils it grows large enough 
to be cut for hay, the quality of which is excellent. It is one of the best 
grasses for creek and river bottom lands for binding levees and ditch 
banks and for lawns which have good care. 35 

81 Ibid., p. 33. 

w lbid., p. 29. " America Challenged, p. 113. 

34 Campbell and Ruffner, op. cit., p. 114. 

85 Forage for the Cotton Belt, pp. 5-6. 


Bermuda has its drawbacks. For good growth it requires lands 
of high fertility which in the Cotton Belt are better used for cash 
crops. Even on many fertile soils it does not grow tall enough for 
hay. It cannot be used in a rotation of crops for it is a "poisonous" 
grass that once it takes the land resists all but the most skillful 
efforts to eradicate! it. 36 In the northern parts of the Cotton Belt 
winter plowing will kill the plant by exposing its roots to frost. 
Further south the grass must be killed by smothering, planting 
at least two other heavy crops over it during the year. 37 Giant 
Bermuda grass, recently introduced from Brazil, is said on rich 
soil to grow runners twenty feet long and stems two feet high. 
For the light sandy soils near the Gulf Coast, carpet grass is fitted 
as Bermuda grass to the heavier and richer soils. It comes in 
very quickly where the land is heavily pastured and trampled and 
because of its creeping habit of growth can bear close grazing. It 
makes little growth after the first frost and cannot be used for 
winter grazing unless the stock are removed from the field in 
July or August. When this is done the grass makes a growth of 
six to twelve inches by November. 38 

The most widespread and most valuable self-seeding legume 
throughout the whole cotton region is a grass introduced from 
Japan, lespedeza or Japanese clover. It grows on all soils except 
the sandy soils of southern Florida, reaches its greatest growth in 
clayey soils with a fair amount of lime; on thin sandy soils it 
grows so low and spreading as to be valuable only for grazing; 
At its best it may reach a height of thirty inches and yield three 
tons of hay an acre. 39 Lewis F. Carr writes: 

It is a true clover but it will grow on sour soils. It is typically Japanese 
in its morphological characteristics, its stems and leaves being very fine 
and delicate resembling maidenhair fern. It is as good a feed as alfalfa 
but the leaves shatter freely so that much of the plant is lost in feeding. 
On good land it will make a ton and a half to two to the acre; but on 
poor soil it will not grow tall enough to be cut with a mowing machine. 
It grows so close to the ground that in the early part of the season it 
resembles the nap of a Turkish rug. ... By the latter part of August 
the nap usually becomes ankle deep and sometimes deeper. I have seen 

88 Carr, op. cit., pp. 113-14. 

87 Forage for the Cotton Belt, p. 8. 
*IHd., p. 8. 

88 Ibid., p. 34. 


it grow so thick that it would not fall down after it was cut. . . . But 
though lespedeza offers an answer to the problem of grass in the South it 
is at best a very small plant for real hay making and its use is limited 
to very rich soils. 40 

Like Bermuda, lespedeza has a giant cousin, Korean clover, in- 
troduced by the Department of Agriculture about 1923. Its future 
is still uncertain. Though it grows higher, it does not grow so 
rank and fails to resist drought. 41 Sudan grass, imported from 
Africa, offered great promise. Although it can be cut two or three 
times a year it has not been successfully adapted to southern con- 
ditions. Napier grass is still in the experimental stage. Soy beans 
will grow on, land too poor for corn and are less injured either by 
drought or moisture. Velvet beans furnish an important grazing 
crop for cattle and hogs in autumn and winter. 

Cowpeas make good hay and are grown more widely than any 
other cultivated legume in the South. They must, however, be 
planted every year and are especially difficult to cure for hay in the 
uncertain weather of the South. The mower may be run from 
the time the dew dries until noon. The vines should be turned 
as soon as the upper surface wilts, and may be put into small cocks 
the following afternoon. There it should be left for three days un- 
til hauled to the barn. If the pitching is done by hand rather 
than by a tedder it requires a week of fair weather to cure a field 
of pea hay. 42 

In the grasses then, exists one of the main differences between 
southern and northern farming. Some day a grass that will thrive 
in the South, producing both hay and permanent pastures that may 
be plowed up, may be discovered or developed. Cotton and corn cul- 
ture, agriculture without grass, have in the South met hardy grasses 
that persist in spreading and resist uprooting. The result is that south- 
ern farmers must wage 1 war on grass. Just after the Civil War, 
a planter near Greenville, Mississippi, sowed grass on his land 
and was sued by a neighbor. The lack of grass fitted to southern 
soils and climate is well shown by methods of keeping lawns 
in the eastern coastal plains. Even for many of the better houses 
the yard is kept bare of vegetation, carefully sanded, and swept 

40 Op. tit., p. 114. 

41 ibid. 

42 Forage for the Cotton Belt, pp. 35-36. 


several times a week. Certain grasses such as carpet or Bermuda 
might be grown on these yards, but the farmer rightly fears they 
may "take the place." Unless an all purpose grass such as timothy 
in the North is found in the South it must be realized that the 
section will continue to be handicapped in the pursuit of dairying 
and the production of fine beef cattle. 43 


The climatic distribution of disease and disease parasites has 
furnished an additional handicap to live stock production in the 
South. The Texas tick fever may be counted as one of the fac- 
tors of the complex of warm, moist climate. A minute parasite 
living within the blood cells of cattle causes tick fever. The life 
cycle of this parasite is dependent upon its host, the cattle tick. 
The stages of the tick from the vegetation on which it is hatched 
to its unwilling host, the cow, and back again demands a mild 
winter. Part of the penalty which any mild, moist region pays for 
its fertility is the fecundity of its insects, parasites, and obnoxious 

It has long been known that "murrain," "redwater" or "bloody 
murrain" killed many cattle brought into the South. The disease, 
without being understood, caused losses year after year in the early 
history of the South. It was first described scientifically by a Dr. 
T. Pease around the 1790'$. He showed that a severe outbreak of 
disease and death among cattle in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, had 
followed the shipment of some North Carolina cattle into the region. 
Observation showed that practically all excessive deaths of northern 
cattle along roads and in pastures followed the transportation of 
southern cattle over those routes. At the same time the southern 
cattle remained perfectly healthy. Also northern cattle brought into 
the South usually succumbed. The danger of sending southern 
cattle to the North during hot weather, although mysterious, was 
firmly established. The affected area was located in 1885, and in 
1891 the first Texas fever quarantine line was drawn by Dr. D. E. 

43 Can, op. cit., p. 115. 

44 John R. Mohler, "Texas or Tick Fever," U. S. D. A. farmers' Bulletin, No. 
569, Nov. 1928. W. F. Ward, "Production of Beef in the South," U. S. D. A. Year- 
boo^, 1913, pp. 259-82. The Story of the Cattle Fever Tic\, U. S. D. A. Yearboo\ 
(3), 1922. 


The means by which diseases like yellow fever and malaria are 
transmitted to men were first made known by a study of tick 
fever, the work of Smith and Kilborne. These men, both from the 
Bureau of Animal Industry, went to work with zest on experi- 
ments in laboratories and the cattle fields of Texas. In 1889 Smith 
was able ta isolate protozoa in the blood stream and to recognize 
them as causes of Texas fever. In 1890 Kilborne proved by experi- 
ment with actual herds of cattle that the disease was carried not 
by contagion among cattle but by an intermediary host, the tick. 
Without its presence the protozoa cannot perpetuate their gen- 
erations. The parasitism of the tick itself is so perfect that in case 
no cattle and horses are at hand the seed tick dies without further de- 
velopment. Thus was furnished the first experimental proof that 
certain diseases regarded as epidemic are carried from one organism 
to another by an intermediary host. 

When these facts were made known two methods of combating 
the disease were suggested, one biological, the other regional. The 
first was based on the known facts regarding serum treatment and 
immunization. Experiments of the Bureau of Animal Industry 
in 1893 indicated that a mild, non-fatal attack of tick fever pro- 
duced in northern cattle served to protect those cattle when carried 
South. From 1895 to ^97 further experiment showed the possibility 
of producing immunity in northern cattle by injections of blood 
from southern cattle. While these methods prepared certain cattle 
for standing exposure to ticks, the better plan seemed to lie in an 
attack on the region itself. Accordingly efforts were expended to- 
ward perfecting a method that would free meadows, fields, and 
farms of the ticks. Experiments finally developed a chemical solu- 
tion strong enough to kill ticks without injuring cattle. This solu- 
tion was applied by dipping, that is forcing cattle to swim for short 
distances through narrow vats containing the solution. Field ex- 
periments showed that regular dipping of all cattle in a definite 
area accompanied by quarantine of cattle from infected areas served 
to rid regions of the tick in a short time. Accordingly in 1906 the 
weight of the Federal Department was shifted from the immuniza- 
tion plan to the regional attack. An ambitious but scientific pro- 
gram for the complete eradication of the fever tick from the 
United States was boldly planned, and Congress made the first ap- 
propriation of $82,500 on July i, 1906. 


At the beginning of the work there were 741,515 square miles 
of infected territory, comprising 966 counties under quarantine in 
thirteen southern states. By November i, 1913, 198,802 square 
miles had been freed of the tick at a cost of less than $10 a square 
mile to the Federal Government. In Mississippi, one of the worst 
infested states, eradication work was being carried on in 26 coun- 
ties, by 1913, and dipping vats were being built in 15 others. Vir- 
ginia, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee were tick free by 
1922. North Carolina, Georgia, and Oklahoma were infested only 
on their eastern fringes. Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Florida 
appeared the most hopeless. By June 30, 1930, there remained under 
quarantine 184 counties in five states. Alabama, Oklahoma, North 
Carolina, and Georgia had been added to the tick free areas. Cattle 
to the number of 16,136,527 were dipped during the year ending 
July i, 1930. By December i, 1931, only the lower tier of southern 
states remained dangerous territory. Texas with 52, Louisiana 
with 42, Florida with 25, and Arkansas with 8, accounted for the 
137 counties still under quarantine. 

Throughout its course the tick eradication campaign has run 
afoul of the folkways of the frontier. The cooperation, supervision, 
and paternal regimentation exercised by Federal inspectors and 
county agents have cut square across the individualism of owners 
of scrub stock. Many stockmen were openly contemptuous of 
the "tick theory," and the Department of Agriculture experts were 
much put to it at first to prove they knew what they were talk- 
ing about. In many rural districts the opinion has held ground 
that dipping killed cows or ruined their milk. Dipping is too 
much trouble; it is not worth while to keep cattle if they have to 
be dipped. Owners in some places have had cows butchered 
rather than dip them. In certain rural areas dipping vats have 
been dynamited in the dead of night, and public opinion has 
blocked any serious effort to discover and punish those guilty. 
Dipping has been favored by those prepared to regard stock raising 
as a large scale industry capable of using scientific methods. It 
is opposed by those who raise a few scrub stock, preferably on a 
free range as did the frontiersman, as a kind of by-product of gen- 
eral farming. This type of farmer expects his stock to cost him 
nothing and is not disappointed if they yield him little. To him 


the fact that his scrub stock runs at large and spreads ticks abroad 
is nobody's business. 


As a by-product of lumbering there were in the piney woods 
section of the South in 1921, 100,000,000 acres of cut-over land, 
an area equal to the combined acreage of Georgia, Alabama, and 
Mississippi. Since 1921 the area of the cut-over pine lands has 
been increased about 10,000,000 acres annually and is expected 
ultimately to reach 250,000,000 acres. 

The disposition of these lands in our national economy presents 
a serious problem. They remain much as the lumbering crews 
left them, covered with stumps, logs, and timber debris. Taxes 
are mounting on non-productive tracts, and with prevailing agri- 
cultural surpluses there exists little market for the oversupply of 
land. It is known that much of the land possesses agricultural value, 
and yet there is danger that it may revert to the state for taxes. 
Interest in the question led to the Cut-Over Land Conference of 
the South, held in New Orleans in April 1917. 

The improvement of the native pastures is among the most 
important problems facing beef cattle production in the cut-over 
piney woods. The abundance of grass on the range, mainly wire 
grass and broom sedge, furnishes good grazing for only a short 
time before it becomes dry and withered. In addition, these native 
pastures in the pine woods have been burned over almost every 
year since the country was settled. While burning makes for ease 
of grazing because the cattle do not have to pick out the green 
from the dead grass, it undoubtedly retards the growth of the 
range. The most serious injury has been to prevent the formation 
of humus in the land since all the organic matter is destroyed 
before it is incorporated with the soil. Some of the soils are so 
devoid of humus as to "check crack" in dry weather, much as does 
a dried mud puddle. These frequent fires have also had the ef- 
fect of keeping out desirable pasture grass. Thus have been per- 
petuated wire grass and broom sedge which, although possessed 
of an uncanny ability to withstand fire, are not able to stand up 
under heavy grazing. Carpet grass, on the other hand, a valuable 
perennial that stands close grazing is not able to withstand the 

45 F. W. Farley and S. W. Greene, "The Cut-Over Pine Lands of the South for 
Beef-Cattle Production," U. S. D. A. Bulletin, 827. 


frequent forest fires. In spite of these facts southern cattle owners 
have persisted in burning off the range each year much to the 
disgust of turpentine operators and lumbermen. While lespedeza 
may have proved adapted to these conditions in its suitability 
to various soils and ability to spread rapidly, there exists, how- 
ever, no grass exactly suited to conditions on cut-over lands. E. B. 
Ferriss of the McNeil, Mississippi, Experiment Station has reported : 

Many of the best pasture crops do not thrive as they should on the wild 
lands until the lands have been plowed and sweetened at least to a 
limited extent. To plow and mow these lands with stumps still on them 
is almost out of the question. 46 


Geographic factors, the presence of the tick, and the relative 
lack of good forage have retarded growth of southern cattle. Cat- 
tle heavily infected with ticks have been lowered in vigor and 
vitality to such an extent that they have not been able fully to 
utilize the grazing. Exclusive reliance on summer pasture has 
left many animals exposed to annual periods of starvation during 
winter. Thus they lose a large part of the gains made during the 
more favorable season and become so stunted that they require 
one to two years longer to reach mature size. Cultural methods 
of handling stock, survivals of the frontier, also retard their de- 
velopment. Until recently, for example, cattle have been left to 
graze at large on the "public range." With no segregation of bulls, 
breeding of under-aged and under-sized heifers seriously retards 
their growth and eventually, it is thought, reduces the size of the 
animals in the herd. 

Factors of blood and breeding, however, have been as important 
as those of geography. Throughout the South, owing possibly 
to the low grade of the cattle, the practice has been to "top" 
rather than "cull" the herd for sales. This means that by selling the 
better rather than the poorer animals, owners have caused their 
herds progressively to deteriorate. An outstanding example is 

"Mississippi A. and M. College Bulletin, 180. Cited U. S. D. A. Bulletin 827, 
p. 28. 

4T F. W. Farley, "Growth of Beef-Cattle Industry in the South," U. S. D. A. Year- 
boo\, 1917. W. F. Ward, op. cit. F. W. Farley and S. W. Greene, he. clt. Arthur T. 
Semple, "Beef Production in the Cotton Belt," U. S. D. A. Farmers' Bulletin 1379, 
1923. . 


found in Florida where for. many years bulls were topped for ex- 
port to Cuba for bull fighting. The loss of better breeding stock 
has produced a marked effect on native cattle of Florida; they are 
small and of a quality inferior to those of other sections of the 
Piney Woods. 

As shown the foundation stock introduced by the Spanish was 
composed of small animals. They have largely remained of in- 
ferior quality because of failure to introduce new blood. At 
the same time, the native stock has become adapted to its environ- 
ment. Their thrift in utilization of sparse pastures, partial im- 
munity to tick fever, and their general hardiness have become fixed 
to such a degree that there is little doubt among cattle men that 
they are transmitted to their offspring. There seems no doubt, on the 
other hand, that their unfavorable biological qualities are also 
fixed. For instance, it was found that the average weights of the 
type of cattle slaughtered in 1918 were 462 pounds at Jacksonville, 
600 pounds at New Orleans, and 745 pounds at East St. Louis. 
Two biological qualities help account for the fact that native 
southern cattle are from 100 to 200 pounds lighter than western 
beef. In terms of the stockman they are "cold blooded," that is, do 
not respond readily to feed. Secondly, although they become com- 
pact when fattened, their weight is too much forward. This results 
in a small percentage of the valuable cuts and reduces the price re- 
ceived for southern cattle. There seems, accordingly, to be little 
foundation for the theory once widely held in the South, that the 
poor size and quality of native cattle is due only to lack of feed 
and care. 

On the other hand, there exists the belief that pure bred animals 
put under southern conditions will rapidly degenerate to a type 
approximating the native cattle. This belief has received apparent 
confirmation in the extreme susceptibility of imported cattle to tick 
fever. While individuals sicken and die, the breed does not de- 
generate as cattlemen now well know. 

The improvement of the two factors of environment and breed 
must go hand in hand. Since neither can be changed over night, 
it is best to keep them balanced. And until forage conditions 
are changed the hardiness of the native stock must be regarded 
as a quality valuable enough to be retained. If it were not for 
that quality, the strain of native cattle would have run out long 


ago because of the ravages of the cattle tick, seasonal starvation, 
breeding of immature animals, and inbreeding. It is better, says 
the Department of Agriculture in recognition of these facts, "to 
grow into the cattle business than to buy into it." This holds 
true, first, because of the heavy cost of a pure bred herd and, sec- 
ond, because of the dangers to which it is exposed in the South. 

The method of "growing into" fine stock raising is fairly sim- 
ple. It has been used with native Texas cows, possibly inferior to 
Piney Woods stock, and a superior grade of cattle has been de- 
veloped from the Texas Longhorn by the use of Shorthorn and 
Hereford Bulls. The biological strain is improved simply by the use 
of a pure sire of proved prepotency and the herds are culled 10 to 15 
per cent each year instead of topped. Lower prices are obtained 
from the sale of culls than of toppers but results are soon apparent in 
herds that possess the native hardiness plus qualities of fine stock. 
First cross calves from pure bred sires out of native cows of all types 
and colors are uniform in color and are built closer to the ground. 
They have shown a marked change in width, depth, and size of 
bone. Accordingly, there remains no doubt as to the value of the 
native southern cow for foundation herds. Cases of successful 
mixed beef herds in the South can be multiplied. 

In Alabama one breeder has been grading up by the use of a pure-bred 
bull for the last 15 years and his herd of 178 head of grade Herefords 
now ranges from one half to fifteen sixteenths pure-bred. Practically 
half his herd could hardly be distinguished from pure breds. The records 
of these cattle have been followed closely. The yearlings now produced 
from high-grade cows weigh 200 pounds more than native yearlings 
under the same conditions as to pasturage and feed. 

A Florida breeder has been grading up the native cows with pure-bred 
Shorthorn bulls for 15 years and his present herd is uniformly good. In 
his herd he has the original first-cross cow, called old Blue, and her 
granddaughters and great-granddaughters and the last could not be 
picked out from his pure bred heifers. 48 

One additional factor of the southern map as related to cattle 
raising is distance to market. The nearest markets and packing 
plants from the center of the Piney Woods cattle area are: New 
Orleans, 300 miles; Jacksonville, 420 miles; St. Louis, 582 miles; 

48 F. W. Farley and S. W. Greene, op. tit., pp. 12-13. 








5 S 9 n 

g S3 3 



8 C p j 


> c ^.S u 

C i- o u 

u iiO v 


j 8 t 

1 "-i-s^ 




= c >> Js 


2 2^^ 








5-S 0-nJ 



Fort Worth, 790 miles; and Baltimore, 860 miles. This, however, 
is more an economic than a geographic factor and will be rem- 
edied only with the development of cattle raising. As one lumber- 
man has expressed it: "We would not build our sawmills and wait 
for the timber to grow, and we cannot expect to have big packing 
plants until we raise the cattle." 49 Already small packing plants 
have been located at Chipley, Florida; Moultrie and Macon, Geor- 
gia; Andulusia, Mobile, and Birmingham, Alabama; Natchez and 
Vicksburg, Mississippi; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 


In 1919 the only five states in the Union having an average 
milk production of less than 2,000 pounds per dairy cow were cot- 
ton states: Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. 
In addition to forage and fever conditions dairying in the South 
faces other factors involved in the Cotton System. Dairy cattle, 
for instance, are well adapted for using the by-products of cotton 
raising; cottonseed meal, cottonseed hulls, and legumes grown to 
enrich the soil. Many cotton plantations, moreover, have large 
acreages of abandoned fields, woodlands, and unimproved lands, 
that fencing, cutting of brush, improvement of water supply and 
shelter with sowing of grass seed would put in line for dairying. 
Dairying, on the other hand, i$ an all the year round routine, re- 
quiring steady and unremitting attention. Cotton production has 
a cultural routine with heavy peaks of human labor at two definite 
seasons of the year, chopping and harvesting. It is a hopeless task 
to accommodate the routines of cotton culture to full-fledged dairy- 
ing. Moreover, the shift from cotton production to dairying is diffi- 
cult because of large initial outlays required for stock, shelter, and 
equipment. The abundance of workers of low economic status 
has been fitted, however haphazardly, into the southern economic 
system by means of share tenancy. Custom has evolved a method 
by which workers without land or capital can till the soil for a 
share of the product. Although the rule of the "third and fourth" 
has been applied to staples such as cotton and corn, no method 
has been successfully set by custom under which tenants may en- 
gage in live stock raising and dairying. Not only are landlords 
afraid to trust stock to the tenants, but dairying is a new and arduous 

49 Ibid., p. 49. 


technique distasteful to the southern farmer. The close atten- 
tion to duty, the habits of steady, skillful routine accepted by 
butter fat producers of Wisconsin as a matter of fact, are traits not 
yet present in southern culture. 

Dairying is also dependent upon density and distribution of 
population. By far the largest part in the grand total of milk 
production is sold as market milk for household consumption in 
nearby cities. Raw milk for family consumption commands a 
higher price and takes precedence over all other dairy products. 
The great dairy regions of New England, southern New York, 
and eastern Pennsylvania have developed their industries along 
the line of producing milk for the large eastern cities. The area 
of butter and cheese production, for instance, has been pushed 
back year after year by the higher price paid for market milk until 
milk is shipped into New York City from the farthest parts of 
the state. Conversely the larger the percentage of rural popula- 
tion the smaller the demand for milk, mainly because farm folks 
are either self-supplying or go without. The lack of great cities in 
the South has thus rendered it inadvisable to develop dairying 
beyond a minimum point. In addition, primary markets for milk 
are restricted by the fact that milk consumption does not play as 
large a part in the food habits of the South. The industrial pop- 
ulation uses milk to a much less extent than the same groups in 
northern cities. The southern consumption of butter per capita 
is 12 pounds a year; the national consumption is 17 pounds. Ac- 
cordingly, the development of dairying in the southern states while 
awaiting increased urbanization will necessarily be dependent 
upon secondary markets. 

The leading methods of selling milk in distant markets are, of 
course, by processes which preserve part of its food qualities. Thus 
as butter, cheese, ice cream, casein, milk sugar, or in powdered, 
condensed, or evaporated forms, milk is prepared for secondary 
markets. How far the South lags behind the nation in the processing 
of its milk is clearly evident from the following tables which 
show that thirteen southern states account for only 6.9 per cent 
of the volume of such milk products as butter, cheese, ice cream, 
and condensed milk. 

It is noteworthy that outside of the bluegrass areas as Ken- 
tucky and Tennessee and the ranching areas as Texas and Okla- 



Butter, Cheese, Condensed Milk, Etc. 


Number of 


Cost of 
(In Thousands 
of Dollars) 

Value of 
(In Thousands 
of Dollars) 

1 . Virginia 





2 . Kentucky 





3 . North Carolina 





4 . Tennessee 













7. Florida 

8. Alabama . . 





9 . Mississippi 





10 . Arkansas 





12. Oklahoma 





13. Texas 





The South 





The United States 





The South's Percentage 






1 . Virginia 









3. North Carolina 









5 . South Carolina 





6 . Georgia 





7. Florida 





8. Alabama 





9. Mississippi 





10. Arkansas 





11. Louisiana . .. 





12. Oklahoma 





13. Texas 





The South 



$ 19,576 


The United States 
The South's Percentage 




301 ,644 

homa, the state to make the greatest advances in processing dairy 
products is Mississippi, the heart of the Cotton Belt. How this 
came about furnishes an interesting case study. 50 The fifteen years 
from 1913 to 1928 saw in the state a period of development in milk 
production and marketing that could not have been predicted. 

60 J. C. Holton, Dairy Prosperity Dawns for Mississippi, Leaflet, Miss. Dept. of 
Agr., 1928. 


In the beginning there was no plant in the state to furnish a market 
for milk. Butter production was the foundation on which Mis- 
sissippi constructed her dairy industry in the beginning. In 1909 
the state sold only 3,334 pounds of butter; in 1919 it sold 1,864,595 
pounds; by 1927 it sold 8,147,166 pounds. In 1912 there was only 
one creamery in the state: by 1923 the output of creameries in 
Mississippi was greater than the combined output of Virginia, 
North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The voice 
of Mississippi as of one crying in the wilderness was heard in Chi- 
cago and New York. Armour and Company established a cream- 
ery, first at Jackson and then another at Meridian. In 1927 their 
combined output amounted to two and a quarter million pounds of 
butter. The Brookhaven Creamery Company was the first in the 
South to inaugurate glass lined tank car service in transport- 
ing fluid milk. As a result the city of New Orleans now draws a 
large part of her milk supply from south Mississippi. In 1928 the 
state legislature followed suit with the passage of modern dairy 
and creamery laws insuring a high quality of sanitation. 

The presence of dairying has served to attract other means of 
secondary marketing. "Saw mills go where the trees are." In 
1925 there was not a single milk condensary south of the Mason 
and Dixon line. The Borden Company built the first at Starkville. 
Following closely were the Carnation Milk Company located at 
Tupelo, and the Pet Milk Company built at Kosciusko. These three 
plants in 1928 were receiving daily 300,000 pounds of milk. The 
Borden Company began the construction of its second plant at Ma- 
con in 1928 and others were promised. The first cheese plant was 
constructed in Mississippi in 1926; in 1928 there were fourteen in 
operation and three under construction. They included plants 
operated by local capital and by such national manufacturers as 
Kraft-Phoenix and A. H. Barber. In 1928 they were receiving about 
300,000 pounds of milk daily. Another extensive market for milk 
is furnished by the ice cream industry. Mississippi had in 1928, 
73 ice cream manufacturing plants and herself consumed annually 
a million and a half gallons. Other milk utilizing plants of recent 
origin in the state are: three dried buttermilk plants, three dried 
skim milk plants, five wholesale milk shipping plants, eleven whole 
milk distributing plants and one semi-solid buttermilk plant. In 


the five years from 1923 to 1928 the state witnessed an increase of 
179 plants. They are classified as follows: 

Cream Buying Stations 86 

Ice Cream Plants 77 

Creameries 27 

Cheese Plants 14 

Whole Milk Distributing Stations 13 

Whole Milk Shipping Stations 6 

Condensaries 4 

Condensed Skim Milk Plants 4 

Dried Buttermilk Plants 3 

Dried Skim Milk Plants 3 

Semi-Solid Buttermilk Plants i 


This development, revolutionary though it seems, rests on solid 
foundation. Territories outside the two hundred mile radius of 
large eastern cities formerly produced the cheese, condensed milk, 
and butter supply of the whole country. But, as the growing cities 
have encroached upon these areas with the demand for more fluid 
milk, manufacturers have been forced to consider poverty-stricken 
cotton areas as a dairy frontier. Mississippi may thus be regarded 
as typifying an almost unexpected southern trend in which Ken- 
tucky, Tennessee, and Texas have taken part. These four south- 
ern states increased their production of condensed and evaporated 
milk from a blank zero in 1920 to 105 million pounds, 6 per cent 
of the nation's production, in 1929. During the same period cheese 
production in all the southern states increased from 170,000 to 
13,897,000 pounds. Cheese factories increased from 10 to 54, so 
that, with the erection of a plant in South Carolina in 1930, every 
southern state is now producing cheese. Strange as it may sound 
the logical approach of a dairy frontier area is through dairy man- 
ufacturing. With the growth of urbanization and rising stand- 
ards of living will come an increasing demand for fluid milk. Into 
these channels some of the secondary milk supply will easily flow. 


In conclusion it is no great task to show that southern agri- 
culture's greatest disparity with northern agriculture rests on this 


, S C O 


-H w , 

-* u b.t: 


2 u ccq 
oo c 


.- u" 1 < 




matter of animal production. For the five year average from 
1924 through 1928, crop incomes per farm for thirteen southern 
states reached 97.6 per cent of the nation's average. The South's cash 
income per farm from live stock products was only 25.4 per cent 
of the nation's while its gross income from live stock per farm 
was only 38.6 per cent of the national average. 51 Thus the South's 
disparity in agricultural incomes was largely due to the absence of 
livestock production. Almost 48 per cent of the South's cattle are 
found in Texas and Oklahoma and, outside these areas and the grass 
sections of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee, the South has never 
contributed extensively to the commercial supply of beef. Moreover, 
the area's disparity in live stock production is increasing. The recent 
increases in swine production have occurred in the western Corn 
Belt at the expense of the South. From 1920 to 1929 swine produc- 
tion on southern farms underwent declines ranging all the way from 
23.8 per cent in Oklahoma to 52.4 per cent in Tennessee. In that 
same period, aided by a decline in beef prices, the number of cattle 
in the entire South was reduced 24 per cent. The main losses were 
in beef cattle, for the number of cows and heifers kept for milking 
purposes declined only 6.3 per cent. 52 Increasing production per 
cow in many developing herds has demonstrated that climatic condi- 
tions do not prohibit high milk production in the South if other fac- 
tors are regulated. The South's great handicap remains lack of im- 
proved pastures. Pastures are shown to be an absolute necessity for 
profitable production of cattle because of their negligible labor costs. 
Studies by the Department of Agriculture show the labor cost 
per ton of digestible cattle feed to be $21.21 for silage, $15.94 f r 
grain, and 66 cents for pasture. Moreover, while natural or unim- 
proved pastures support only one animal unit for each ten acres, 
improved pastures support one for each two acres at practically 
double the rate of gain. The census of 1920 showed only 20 per 
cent of pasture land in the eight southern states of Alabama, Arkan- 
sas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and 
South Carolina to be improved. On this basis the 1925 census 
showed for these states a surplus of 1,500,000 animals above the 

B1 See Table XIV, p. 183. 

62 See The Agricultural Outloo\ for the Southern States 1930-31, U. S. D. A. 
Miscellaneous Publications, 102, 1930, p. 51. 


optimum pasture requirements. 53 As pointed out the decrease 
in cattle has continued since 1925. 

If Mississippi in some aspects has managed to take the lead, 
it is the coastal plain of the Southeast that remains the most back- 
ward. From 1879 to 1919 its acreage in harvested crops doubled, 
but in 1924 it was one third less than in 1919. Two per cent of its 
acreage was in hay or forage and 21 per cent in pasture compared 
to 17 per cent in forage and 41 per cent in pasture for the rest of 
the United States outside the Cotton Belt. Swine were found one 
fourth as numerous in 1924 as in 1919 and the area had one half 
as many milk cows per 100 acres in crops as in the nation outside 
the Cotton Belt. Milk production per cow was one half of that in 
the rest of the country, while the per capita production was only one 
fourth. Yet after presenting this dismal picture the Department of 
Agriculture was able to assert: "There are more live stock in the 
coastal plain than can be adequately provided for on the improved 
pastures available for them." 54 

To recount the story of live stock raising in the South is to 
tell the story of a struggle against odds. The frontier heritage of 
careless ways and scrub stock, nature's handicap of animal parasites, 
and grasses too delicate or too agressive here met a system of agri- 
culture that seemingly left little place for live stock except the mule 
and the razorback hog. The average value of live stock on the 
farm in thirteen southern states for 1928 was $35.58. For the 
nation it was $76.25. The South averaged 43 acres for pasture 
per farm to 64 for the nation. And this figure is too high, for 
it includes the great ranch areas of Oklahoma and Texas. No other 
southern states rank as high as Kentucky with 30 pasture acres 
for each farm. North Carolina and South Carolina average less 
than ten. The fifteen- states where wealth per country dweller is 
greatest produce $81.30 worth of animal products for each $100 
worth of crops. Only four southern states, Kentucky, Virginia, 
Tennessee, and Florida exceed the United States average for 
1929 of 224 animal units per 1,000 acres in crops. Florida ranks 
here only because much of her crop acreage is in intensive orchards 
or trucking farms. In eleven cotton states in 1928 the average value 
of animal products for each $100 of crops was placed at $27.12. The 

"See U. S. D. A. Yearbool(, 1931, pp. 423-24. 



Animal Units Per 
1000 Acres in Crops 

Value of Animal 
Products per 3100 
in Crops 





3 . South Carolina 



4 Georgia 


27 70 

S . Florida 


18 00 



7. Mississippi 



8 . Arkansas 



9 . Louisiana 



10. Oklahoma 



11. Texas 



figures for separate states are given in Table XII. The South will 
be able to overcome the handicaps inherent in geography and breeds 
sooner than its competitive disadvantages with relation to other 


Nevertheless, a dairying industry adequate for local markets is 
becoming increasingly possible for the South. Already the section 
possesses 26.1 per cent of the nation's cows two years old and over 
kept for milk. This is but slightly under its proportion of the na- 
tional area and population. The annual production of milk per 
milk cow in selected herds kept by crop correspondents of the De- 
partment of Agriculture during 1930 was 5,188 pounds for the 
United States and 6,002 for the western states. For eight South 
Atlantic states it was 4,007, for eight South Central 3,529. From 
1925 to 1930, average production for the nation on this basis in- 
creased 8.4 per cent, for the South Atlantic section only 3.2 per cent, 
but for the South Central, 9.3 per cent. 

Tick eradication has made possible the live stock industry in 
the South, and the steady establishment of markets will conserve 
it. For example, since the lifting of quarantine, South Carolina, 
by no means a well developed cattle state, has imported thousands 
of head of pure bred sires and has shipped blooded cattle to northern 
and western( markets. In the earliest days in the creamery indus- 
try the South had her share of premature starts and failures, but 
in many areas that day of pioneering is past and the farmer may 
tie up with well-established milk lines and creameries. The 
idea once so often heard that because of climate the South could 


not produce good commercial butter is also passing. In the Dixie 
butter scoring contests of September, 1930, 53 southern creameries 
entered creamery butter. Sixty per cent of it scored between 90 
and 93.5, considered high. The channels for marketing the south- 
ern butter are not yet well developed and the area still consumes 
four times as much butter as it puts in the channels of commercial 
distribution. As much as anything else in the South, however, 
the live stock industry is conditioned upon the cotton system. To 
it accordingly we next devote our attention. 



IT is POSSIBLE that some varieties of each of the eight basic types 
of agriculture practiced in America exist in the South. 1 Extensive 
mechanized one crop farming, well typified by wheat growing, can 
be found in southern rice culture. The market garden with its 
highly intensive horticulture of the hand and knee type with oc- 
casionally a foreman bossing a gang of Mexicans weeding onions 
can be found along the Gulf from the Rio Grande Valley to Florida 
and along the Atlantic from Florida to Norfolk. Sheep and 
cattle ranches with saddle supervision of a bunch of cowboys rais- 
ing stock still remain in our Southwest. The all-around animal 
farm with corn for hogs, hay for kine, and milk, butter, and cheese 
for the cities is more likely to be found in the Corn Belt or in 
Wisconsin than in the South. What Smith calls "The independent 
kingdom of my own," self-sufficing farming where the farmer 
and his sons grow all possible products for home use, is to be found 
at its lower backwoods levels in the Southern Highlands. The all- 
around diversified farmer with a fair balance between meat and 
plant products, food and cash crops, is still comparatively rare in 
the South. In an unmechanized but coordinated large scale farm- 
ing by directed labor gangs the South offers a unique type for 
America in its sugar plantations of Louisiana. But small scale 
unmechanized farms devoted to a cash staple and loosely held to- 
gether by the supervision of landlords and suppliers of credit 
furnish the one type of agriculture best known throughout the 
South. A sequel oJ the old plantation, this form of agriculture is 
now applied to tobacco and cotton. All these types of southern 
farming except cotton will receive consideration in later chapters. 
After passing through a series of changes and adaptations in 
its equilibrium of plants and animals each natural region finally 

^Huntington and Williams, Business Geography, p. 340. J. R. Smith, North 
America, pp. 301-2. .- . 



settles down to a crop system more or less standardized for the 
area. The adoption of a region's crop system is due to many fac- 
tors already suggested such as qualities of the soil and the climate's 
relation to the optimum conditions of growth for plants and an- 
imals. The distribution of insect pests, parasites, fungi, rusts, 
blights, scourges, etc., has also been pointed out as somewhat inci- 
dental to climate. Transportation, the location and character of 
markets, are obviously important economic factors. A factor in 
introducing and perpetuating a crop system that the human geog- 
rapher has found to be especially important is the cultural habits of 
farmers. Entering a new region, farmers first attempt to repro- 
duce the crop systems of the old country; having worked out an 
adaptation to the area, they hand down agricultural technique, 
tools, and organization. To such an extent is this true that it has 
been maintained in many instances that culture in the anthropolog- 
ical sense conditions the choice of crops and of areas for settlement. 
The English, for example, first planted wheat and root crops in the 
United States; the Germans introduced intensive farming in Penn- 
sylvania; Italians habitually set out vineyards, and plant both 
trees and crops in a single field; Scandinavians go in for dairying; 
and Mexicans prefer cattle ranching. 2 Russians from the lower 
Volga Basin introduced dry farming in the Columbia Basin. We 
shall need to recall these facts when we come to consider the planta- 
tion and the heritage of cotton culture. 

To obtain a clear perspective of the agriculture of the South one 
must view it? as projected against the trends of the nation and of 
the times. 3 From 1920 to 1925 agriculture began a downward move- 
ment which the period 1925 to 1932 showed no evidence of check- 
ing. Farmers compose some 27 per cent of the nation's popula- 
tion but today receive a little over seven per cent of the national 
income. From 1920 to 1925 their average return on investment 
was 1.7 per cent; in 1920-21 the average farm operator suffered ac- 
tual loss. Expressed in returns on investment the American farmer 
of all our classes seems to be in business for his health. During 

8 See Huntington and Williams, op. cit. 

9 The National Industrial Conference Board has made a valuable analysis in its 
Condition of Agriculture in the United States and Measures for Its Improvement. 
See Evans Clark in New York Times, Jan. 2, 1927, whose analysis is here followed. 


this same period the average farmer's income from labor and 
management varied from $412 to $804 but this included the value of 
food, fuel, and shelter supplied by the farm. After these are de- 
ducted the average farmer in the best year had $170 available. In 
leaner years he had literally less than nothing. 

To suggestions that he sell and get out from under, it can be 
replied that values of farms shrunk thirty per cent, losing twenty 
billion dollars in six years. Increasing bankruptcies, indebtedness, 
and bank failures in farming areas have reflected these trends. 
From 1921 to 1925 there were chalked up a total of 21,000 farm 
failures increasing the rate from 20 per 100,000 farms in the ten 
years before 1920 to between 93 and 123 since then. When one 
realizes how unusual it is for a farm to go into bankruptcy, the 
figures assume new significance for an era in which no increases 
in business failures occurred. Between 1890 and 1910 the burden 
of mortgaged debt on American farms did not increase faster 
than their value. From 1910 to 1920 the value of farm property 
rose 90 per cent while the mortgaged debt rose 217 per cent. It 
is estimated that, in 1890, 20 per cent of the farms were under mort- 
gage, in 1920, 40 per cent, while in 1926 the indebtedness reached 
$8,500,000 covering 42 per cent of the value of property involved. 
That it rose no higher must in part be attributed to an increasing 
disinclination of capital to accept farms as financial risks. The 
personal indebtedness of American farmers rose from $1,000,000,000 
in 1909-10 to $3,250,000,000 in 1924-25, accounting for an interest 
charge estimated to range from $70,000,000 to $112,000,000 annually. 
The records for 1925-26 of 433 bank failures in the Middle Westj 
and 312 in the South to only 18 for the Industrial East reflect the 
post-war deflation of agriculture. "At the close of 1925, the best 
year the farmer had had since 1920, the labor earnings of the av- 
erage farm owner were $573 less than the value of the food, fuel, 
and rent enjoyed by the average farmer, a little more than the wages 
paid to hired labor without board, and less than half the average 
labor earnings of workers in other occupations." Accompanied 
by widespread drought and financial depression these tendencies 
have not slacked in downward trends. 

Against this background of national agriculture we may project 
the cotton economy of the South. The South's farm problem re- 
sembles the nation's in that both have seen agricultural production 





overdeveloped. In many other respects the South's agriculture pre- 
sents a distinctive complex o its own. Clarence Heer's authoritative 
study of Income and Wages in the South contrasts the ten states 
most often regarded as characteristically southern with the rest of 
the nation. Over a period of some thirty years southern agricul- 
ture has furnished its farmers just over half the per capita returns 
received by farmers in the rest of the nation. In 1927 this ratio 
was 50.7 per cent; in 1924, 50.1. In periods of agricultural pros- 
perity the South's percentage was a little higher, being 56.2 per 
cent in 1899, 53.4 per cent in 1909, and 55.3 per cent in I9i9. 4 

It is these abnormally depressed rates of income that the stu- 
dent of southern agriculture must seek to explain. The most ob- 
vious explanation has to do with the size of farms. When the 
averages of thirteen southern states are compared with national 
averages for 1925, the southern farms are found to be 71.6 per 
cent as large with only 63.1 per cent of the crop acreage of the 
average farm of the nation and only 67.2 per cent of the pasture 
acreage. Table XIII points out these differences. 

As might be expected values per farm are inclined toward an 
even lower level. The Southern farm was worth, in 1925, 46.4 per 


Land in 

Size of 





Acres in 









Acres in 


of Farms 


in Acres 


per Farm 


per Farm 

1 . Virginia 








2. Kentucky 








3. North Carolina... 








4 Tennessee . . 








5 . South Carolina . . . 








6. Georgia 


21 ,945 






7. Florida 








8. Alabama 








9. Mississippi 








10. Arkansas 








11. Louisiana . . 








12. Oklahoma 








13. Texas 

































* Clarence Heer, Income and Wages in the South, pp. 12-22. 


cent of the national average, its buildings came to 41.6 per cent 
of the national average for farm buildings, its implements were 
worth 41.9 per cent, and its live stock 46.8 per cent of those on the 
nation's average farm. As an evidence of the part played by the 
smaller sizes of farms, the value of land per acre in the South was 
67.6 per cent of the nation's average, the region's highest com- 
parative figure. 


(Total Values in Millions of Dollars) 








* S 

















1 . Virginia 












2. Kentucky 












3. North Carolina 












4. Tennessee 












5. South Carolina 












6. Georgia 












7. Florida 












8. Alabama 












9. Mississippi. . . . 












10. Arkansas 












11. Louisiana 












12. Oklahoma 












13. Texas.. 












South . 






3 2,288.7 

3 767 






























When the inquiry is shifted to incomes from farm production 
the story remains the same. The study of the five year average from 
1924 through 1928 shows the average southern farm to have a cash 
income amounting to 63.7 per cent and a gross income of 68.5 
per cent of the national averages. On incomes from crops the South 
shows up much better with about 97.6 per cent of the national av- 
erage. Where the region loses, as has been pointed out, is in the 
low ratios of live stock production per farm, only 38.6 per cent of 
the national average. 

The South is facing agricultural difficulties which represent one 
phase of the nation's agricultural problem. This complex includes 









Per Farm 





Per Farm 

1. Virginia 
2. Kentucky 




3 770.99 





3. North Carolina. 
4. Tennessee 
5 . South Carolina . 
6. Georgia 
7. Florida 

8. Alabama 

9. Mississippi 
10. Arkansas 
11. Louisiana 
12. Oklahoma 
13. Texas 

The South 










908. 87 







South's Average 
per Farm 
The Nation 



Nation's Average 
per Farm 
South's Percentage . 



*Gross Income includes cash income plus values of materials consumed on the farm* 

low prices on agricultural products, increase of mortgage debt and 
of tenancy, drift of population to the cities especially of the young 
and vigorous and depletion of soil fertility. 

Conditions of the Southeast favorable to agriculture include a 
long growing season, adequate rainfall, fertile soils or soils highly 
productive if adequately fertilized, nearly flat or gently rolling land, 
nearness to markets, good transportation facilities, and low land 
values. These advantages have not been adequately utilized on 
account of the one crop system, small acreage per farm, absentee 
ownership, prevalence of tenancy, drift of population from the 
land, abandonment of farms, impoverishment of the soil, shortage 
of local food crops, lack of self-sustaining farms, inadequate mar- 
keting facilities for diversified agriculture, and unattractive rural 
environment. Plenty of advice and information are available to 
enable the remedying of these defects, but it is difficult under exist- 
ing conditions for the advice to be followed, The habits and 


knowledge of those actually on the land, the existing credit pol- 
icies, and the lack of organized markets handicap change. 5 


Adapted to a great variety of plant life, the South has curiously 
enough come to be dominated! by the cotton plant. 6 With all its 
economic, political, and social ramifications, the fact has basic 
foundations in the geography of a wide area. 

The limits of the Cotton Belt are drawn by lines of temperature 
and rainfall. On the north it follows the summer average tempera- 
ture of 77 degrees; on the south the belt has itsi bounds set along 
the Gulf and Atlantic Coast by an average rainfall limit of over 
10 inches during the autumn. Beyond the northern temperature 
boundary the growing season is too short; below the southern lim- 
its the picking season is likely to be ruined by rains. Cotton pro- 
duction is found throughout the southern states extending from 
eastern North Carolina to western Texas. The Belt is 1,600 miles 
long and varies from 125 to 500 miles in width, the average width 
being 300 miles. In an area of 295,000,000 acres, less than 3 per 
cent of the world's land area, is grown about 55 per cent of the 
world's cotton. 7 Within the boundaries set by climate the density 
of cotton production varies according to soil areas, factors of tech- 
nology, and economic organization. 

Natural and economic forces have made the South peculiarly dependent 
upon cotton. Cotton may be grown only under certain climatic condi- 
tions which restrict its production in the United States to the southern 
states, whereas grain and forage crops which are grown to some extent 
in these states are grown in other parts of the United States under 
climatic conditions as favorable or even more favorable for their produc- 
tion. Since cotton will grow on practically all well-drained soils, is 
drought resistant, and yields well on light sandy soils to which fertilizers 
have been applied it is better suited to many of the soils of the South 
than are other staple crops. Furthermore, the South has a denser agri- 
cultural population and cheaper labor than other parts of the United 

5 The case of southern agriculture has been well summed up in the "Report of 
Special Advisors on Reclamation and Rural Development in the South." House 
Document No. 765, Part I, 1927, p. 5. 

8 Much of the documentation on which this chapter is based will be found in the 
author's Human Factors in Cotton Culture. 

7 O. E. Baker, Economic Geography, III, 65. 


States, both of which circumstances favor the production of cotton as it 

requires a large amount of hand labor and yields high returns per acre. 8 

Cotton occupied some 42 per cent of the crop land in the Cot- 
ton Belt in 1920 and produced a value equal to the combined value of 
all other crops in the Belt. The value of cotton lint is exceeded 
by the values of corn, hog, and wheat crops for the whole United 
States but, when the value of cotton seed is included, cotton usually 
ranks second only to corn. Cotton and "cawn" are supposed to 
divide the South between them but in the ten cotton states cot- 
ton occupies some 44.5 million acres to 25.6 for corn. Only North 
Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia have larger acreages planted 
to corn. In our export trade cotton's value exceeds that of any 
other agricultural commodity. It is the chief source of income 
to a large proportion of southern farmers and as a matter of course 
occupies the best land in the Belt and determines the time de- 
voted to other crops. 

Historically cotton fastened its hold upon the South through the 
plantation. The plantation made its appearance in America before 
either cotton or slavery. The first southern colonies were called 
plantations and the promoters expected no doubt that the returns 
of their venture would come from some sort of adaptation of feudal 
land tenure to America. The first organizations of labor in agri- 
culture worthy of the term plantation included indentured servants 
and was applied to the growing of tobacco. Well known as it 
is in the tropics, the plantation would in the course of time have 
given way to a frontier yeomanry had it not been for the fortuitous 
introduction of the Negro slave and the cotton plant. The planta- 
tion according to Phillips has demanded four factors: land, fertile, 
plentiful and level; a labor supply, docile and of low status; man- 
agement involving social as well as economic supervision; and a 
staplq crop. In the South it has found five staples: tobacco, rice, 
indigo, sugar, and cotton, but cotton has outdistanced them all. 
Cotton early commanded an enviable place in the v/orld's com- 
merce. It also fitted into a regular and easily supervised routine 
of tasks to be accomplished by plow gangs, hoe gangs, and picking 
gangs, in all of which, except the plowing, women and children 
could participate. Technology came to the plantation's aid when 

8 O. C. Stine and O. E. Baker, Atlas of American Agriculture, Part V, Section A, 
"Cotton," 1918, p. ii. 


the system seemed about to wane, and the invention of the cotton 
gin insured on the one hand cheap fabrics, on the other the exten- 
sion of the cotton kingdom and the perpetuation of slavery. 

How the plantation contended with the frontier and how it 
made an aristocracy, America's first, out of part of that frontier 
has been recounted. How the plantation, staggered by the shock 
of the abolition of slavery, after a brief hiatus reorganized its 
labor into a tenancy and share cropping system is more important 
for our chronicle. A stricken upper class possessing nothing but 
lands met a servile population possessed of nought except the 
labor of their hands. In what must have been an era of primitive 
barter, a system was arrived at whereby labor was secured without 
money wages and land without money rent. Up and down the 
Cotton Belt southern states after 1865 vied with one another in 
passing crop lien laws. Accepted as the temporary salvation of 
a wrecked economic structure, the system has increasingly set the 
mode for southern agriculture. Under the crop lien system the 
unpropertied farmer mortgages his ungrown crop for the supplies 
necessary to grow it. He also pledges a portion, third, fourth, or 
half of his crop, for use of the land. The most outstanding com- 
mentary one can make on the South is to point out the fact that 
from that day to this the percentage of those who must secure 
their year's livelihood by crop liens has steadily increased. Many 
of the enfeebled aristocracy saw their once proud acres go on the 
block for ridiculously low prices; but the hopes for the rise of a 
vigorous yeomanry to take their places never materialized. The 
crop lien system was developed to readjust the Negro to cotton 
production on terms more fitting a modern economy than slavery. 
Its success was so great as to be disastrous. Congregated on its 
original fringes, the unpropertied poor white farmers poured into 
the new scheme and helped to make temporary expediency a perma- 
nent arrangement. Southern states which possessed a rate of 30 
per cent tenancy in 1880 now rank over 50 per cent, while long 
since the whites have come to produce the majority of the crop. 
The Census of 1900 showed that of all farmers to whom cotton 
offered the chief source of income 67.7 per cent were tenants. In 
1910, although; Negro farmers cultivated 52 per cent of the total 
cotton acreage, the white farmers produced 67 per cent of the total 
crop. In ten chief cotton states in 1920, 55 out of every hundred 



2 s S. 

C C J! > g 

^2 C 

811 5 S 




Number, January I. 1925 

Each dot 
250 form 



FIGURE 14. This map shows croppers separately from other tenants. Croppers in the South 
generally grow cotton or tobacco for a share of the crop. They use work stock furnished by their land- 
lords, they themselves owning little or no equipment, and in many States are by law classed as laborers 
and not as tenants. The territory of greatest density is in the Yazoo (Miss.) Delta, which is nearly all 
tillable and is largely devoted to cotton production. In parts of the old Cotton Belt, notably in South 
Carolina and Georgia, croppers have increased recently, because many renters lost so much that they 
could not furnish work animals and equipment with which to farm. Most of the croppers in Kentucky 
and Virginia grow tobacco. (Courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture). 


Number, January 1, 1925 

Each dot 
250 fa 



FIGURE 15. This map indicates the number of tenants who own their work animals. Frequently, 
however, such tenants in the Southern States are so in debt that they only nominally own this stock. 
Comparison with Figure 14 shows a much more uneven distribution of croppers than of other tenants. 
In Oklahoma and in most parts of Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, and North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, 
and Virginia the croppers are greatly outnumbered by the other tenants. Both classes of tenants are 
numerous in the strip of rich cotton-growing country along the Mississippi River, in the black prairie 
of Texas, and in South Carolina and Georgia. In the Yazoo delta and in southern Georgia there are 
many more croppers than other tenants. (Courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture). 


farmers were tenants; and, out of every hundred tenants, 21 were 
cash renters, 37 were croppers, and 42 were share tenants. By 1925, 
57.7 per cent of the farmers were tenants. The number of cash 
tenants among the renters had fallen to 11.2 per cent while the 
croppers had risen to 48.7 per cent. In 1930 the percentage of ten- 
ancy for these states was 61.5. Out of every 100 tenants there were 
45 croppers, 42.3 share and other tenants, and 12.7 cash renters. 
Table XVI shows the distribution by states and races with the addi- 
tion of the non-cotton states of Virginia, Kentucky, and Florida. 

The following biased interpretation of the function served by 
the crop lien shows the point of view of the tenant : 

When the landlord's lien law was passed every acre of agricultural land 
in North Carolina was immediately multiplied in value from three to 
ten times its actual market money value. 

The landlord's lien law was originally introduced for the purpose of 
keeping the Negro in slavery. It not only accomplished its purpose in 
large measure but it has gradually made slaves of an increasing number 
of white people. 

Viewed from one angle, the landlord's lien law has created and sustained 
a landed gentry, getting their income out of the labor of others ... an 
income entirely disproportionate to the value of the crops produced if 
any reasonable allowance is made for the labor of men, women and chil- 
dren going to make the crop. 9 

It is doubtful that such a view will sustain economic analysis. 
A. E. Cance holds that the system of tenancy in the South merely 
gives a fictitious dignity to a low grade of unskilled farm laborers 
who would under other! forms of agriculture be engaged as hired 
men. Southern courts have held that cropper farming is a method 
of paying wages in produce rather than a form of tenancy. Cance 
has said: 

Tenancy attracts many farm operators who otherwise would not be en- 
gaged in farming at all. The tenant has no expenses of upkeep of land 
or buildings. With some notable exceptions he spends little or no time 
improving the farmstead or making it attractive. Rented farms left to 
the care of tenants are almost sure to "run down" in buildings, fences, 
ditches, lawns, roadsides and shrubbery if not in soil, for the period of 

F. M. Shannonhousc, letter in Charlotte Observer, March 26, 1922. 








Share & 

26 5 


















33 9 













North Carolina 





















































?> 3 






5 7 
















































































South . . 





















:o South 







United States 
South's Percentage . . 

*Includes standing renters, croppers, and share tenants. 
**Percentage of all tenants exclusive of cash tenants. 


tenure is short and the tenant cannot afford the necessary time and 

money to keep up a place he does not own. 10 

In short, the owners take part of the risk of production by tak- 
ing the rent in a fraction of the yield. If the tenant is a cropper/ 
the owner also bears all the depreciation in tools and the risk of 
death of work stock. Lack of a rational form of tenancy has thus 
operated to perpetuate the low-standard farmers. 11 Anything that 
tends to discourage or restrict the entrance into farming of low 
grade laborers will greatly simplify competitive conditions and raise 
the standards of agricultural proprietorship. 

The traditional scapegoat for all the agricultural ills the South 
is heir to has long been the Negro. Because he has furnished the 
majority of tenant labor within the cotton system he has had to 
bear the brunt of the blame for the system. This characteristic 
attitude is well set forth in a public address of a southern governor 
near the turn of the century: 

We have not diversified our crops because the Negro has not been 
willing to diversify. We have not used improved machinery on our 
farms thereby economizing expenses because the Negro is not willing to 
use such implements. We have not improved our soil because the Negro 
is not willing to grow crops to be incorporated into the soil, nor leave 
his cotton seed to be returned to the fields that he has denuded of humus 
and all possible traces of fertility. Because he is unwilling to handle 
heavy plows we have permitted him to scratch the land with his scooter 
just deep enough for all the soil to be washed from the surface, leaving 
our fields practically barren and wasted. We have not raised stock on 
the farm because the Negro is cruelly inhuman and starves the work 
animals we put in his hands for his personal support. We have accepted 
his thriftless and destructive methods simply because under our present 
system we have not been able to do without him. If this be true our 
present system in this relation is absolutely ruinous and it will not invite 
the residence of intelligent settlers from the outside." 12 


It is but a partial answer to this criticism to suggest that the 
winning of the South was largely) the work of the Negro and the 
pioneer. "Without the Negro the development of the southern 

M In Dwight Sanderson (ed.), Farm Income and Farm Life, p. 77. 
*lbid., p. 81. 

"Governor Northen of Georgia, quoted by George K. Holmes in Publications, 
American Economic Association, 1904, pp. 122-23. 


states," C. C. Stack points out, "would have been retarded half a 
century longer until the great tide of immigration had flowed over 
the Appalachian watershed and covered the fertile reaches of the 
great Northwestern territory." 18 The expansion westward of the 
plantation system was due to nothing so much as the unremitting, 
back-breaking toil of Negro labor gangs. Bolstered by his tropical 
origin, his imagined immunity to malaria, he felled the forests, 
cleared canebrakes and thick underbrush, drained marshes and 
subdued to cultivation alluvial areas in a humid subtropic clime. 
With the area left to the normal processes of immigration, the 
pioneers who filled the upland forests would have left untouched 
much of this unhealthful lowland so well fitted for the cultivation 
of indigo, rice, sugar, and cotton. 

More pertinent is the assertion that the characteristics of the 
cotton system and of the cotton growers can be traced to origins 
(Other than Negro shortcomings. To lay the blame for the "whole 
miserable panorama of unpainted shacks, rain-gullied fields, strag- 
gling fences, rattletrap Fords, dirt, poverty, disease, drudgery, and 
monotony that stretches for a thousand miles across the Cotton 
Belt" 14 on the inherent traits of a minority and once subject race 
is to claim too much. Opposed to the naive biology which thus 
accounts for the agriculture of a great domain is a rounded cultural 
interpretation. The geography, the seasonal cycle of plants, the 
economics of production and marketing, the social organization 
of a region none of these things remains without influence and 
imprint upon its human denizens. Habits and attitudes which 
these factors condition are often attributed by those who disapprove 
to inherent willfulness or original sin. That cotton culture first 
on the plantation and afterward in the tenancy system conditioned 
and perpetuated the traits of which the governor speaks may be 
inferred from the fact that similar habits and attitudes are held 
by white croppers, tenants, and small farmers. 

An analysis of the cotton system and the cotton complex is suffi- 
cient to show this. A definite set of practices surrounds the crop. 
Cotton is produced with (i) a large proportion of expensive credit, 
(2) in connection with a small percentage of other crops, (3) under 

18 In Publications, American Economic Association, 1904, p. 155. 
"Robert H. Montgomery's phrases in his The Cooperative Pattern in Cotton, 
P- 351. 


a system of supervision and regimentation as in plantation and 
tenancy, (4) calling for a maximum amount of manual labor much 
of which is furnished by women and children. Moreover, (5) in 
prosperity cotton creates a vested interest in credit institutions 
to maintain it, (6) in times of depression, it enables failing farm- 
ers to continue in the cotton system by receding to the lower levels of 
tenure, and (7) at all times it encourages speculation, over- 
expansion, and over-production. Finally, (8) the crop is sold in a 
marketing system which the growers do not understand and over 
which they exercise little or no control. 

The cotton system may be defined as the complex organization 
of financing, growing, and marketing cotton. It thus includes 
croppers, tenants, small farmers, and planters who comprise the 
growers, plus the banks, supply merchants, factors, and fertilizer 
dealers who finance the crop, and the local buyers, general buyers, 
cooperatives, shippers and exporters who assemble and classify cot- 
ton for sale to the mills or for export. As far as it is integrated 
the cotton system is organized around the method by which it is 
financed. In periods of prolonged depression this system tends 
to break down, only to reorganize in periods of rising cotton prices. 

Deeply rooted in the cotton economy is the element of risk. As 
a Secretary of Agriculture once pointed out this is implicit in all 

The farmer supplies the capital for production and takes the risks of his 
losses; his crops are at the mercy of drought and flood and heat and 
frost to say nothing of noxious insects and blighting diseases. He sup- 
plies hard, exacting, unremitting labor. . . . Then there is the risk of 
over-production and disastrously low prices. From beginning to end the 
farmer must steer dextrously to escape perils to his profits and indeed 
to his capital on every hand. 15 

For cotton there exists a cycle of production initiated by acreage 
planted and determined in its outcome by the weather and the 
weevil. The yield per acre averaged over the whole belt has varied 
from 124.5 pounds of lint in 1921 to 222 pounds in 1897. Within' 
the last fifty years the average income per cotton acre has ranged 
from $10.78 in 1898 to $60.62 in 1919, while the farm price per 
bale has explored the ranges between $25 and $155. Seven times 

"James Wilson, U. S. D. A., 7carboo\, 1910, p. 26. 


between 1890 and 1928 a decrease in American production has oc- 
curred, and five times it has resulted in an increased total money 
value of the shorter crop. < For the seven years a total decrease of 
22,900,000 bales has meant an absolute increase of $406,800,000 in 
crop values. A decrease in production of 23.4 per cent then brought 
a 12.9 per cent increase in total value of the seven crops. To put 
it another way, eight low-price bumper crops since 1890 have 
been followed by eight attempts to cut acreage. For these years an 
average reduction of n per cent in acreage has resulted in an av- 
erage of 25.2 per cent reduction in crops with a 33 per cent rise in 
cotton prices. Thus the original variation of eleven per cent has 
been tripled in the final price effect. Conversely the increases in pro- 
duction caused equally violent downward movements in the 
market. 16 

To the farmers of the South these cycles result in incomes sub- 
ject to great vicissitudes. The danger to credit institutions and to 
standards of living lies not so much in the low incomes as in 
tragically irregular incomes. The averages in Table XVII show 
for example crop incomes not greatly below national standards. 
Robert H. Montgomery offers the following record of the income 



Number of 
Bales of Cotton 

Average Price 
per Pound 
in Cents 

Total Money 
Income in 
in Dollars 

Percentage of 
Income of 
Previous Years 



































































1908 . .... 










*From Robert H. Montgomery, The Cooperative Pattern in Cotton, p. 251. 

16 Carl Geller, "Fewer Acres and More Dollars," Commerce and Finance, January 
, 1927, p. 123. Vance, op. cit., pp. 122-23. 


of a family with eight boys and three girls on a Texas cotton farm. 
The acres in cotton were gradually increased from forty in 1894 to 
eighty in 1899 where it remained. 

After the total of eighty acres came into cultivation (1899-1909) 
the income varied from $350.00 to $1,982.50. It dropped in one year 
from $1,588.80 to $350.00, then rebounded to the second highest 
figure of the period, $1,832.57, only to fall again the following year 
to 42 per cent of that amount. 

We may reduce the whole story to one figure if we are addicted 
to quoting averages. Considering the income of each year suc- 
cessively as i oo, the average deviation of each year as compared to 
the previous one was 82 per cent. The American Locomotive Com- 
pany regarded by experts as showing a maximum of variability in 
corporation income possessed, as Montgomery shows, an average 
variation of 32.6 per cent in income for the same period. 17 

Cotton, moreover, is grown in connection with a small pro- 
portion of other crops. Thus the hardships of irregular income are 
made greater by the lack of home-raised supplies on cotton farms. 
Diversification in the Cotton Belt has been consistently preached in 
and out of season but it has never been attained. Basing her esti- 
mates on standard products excluding extras and luxuries, Miss 
Henrietta R. Smedes found in 1920 that Mississippi, Alabama, 
South Carolina, and Georgia purchased over half their food and 
stock feed from outside the state. Other southern states can be 
pointed out which rank but little higher. Some index of the 
extent of diversification of the 2,550,407 farms in ten cotton states 
in 1920 may be found in Table XVIII. These figures are manifestly 
inconclusive in that they do not point out whether such farms pro- 
duce less or more than enough for their needs. 

This excessive reliance on one crop in an area suited to many is 
due in part to the peculiar fitness of cotton as a money crop in credit 
economy. The South is situated at some distance from the market 
centers of the world. Because cotton is non-perishable and combines 
the advantages of high value in small bulk it can bear transporta- 
tion to distant world markets. It .fits no less into the crop lien sys- 
tem. It is food for neither man nor beast and can be devoured 
neither by the tenants' mules nor his children. It must be ginned 

"Robert H. Montgomery, op. cit., pp. 251-52. 





Number of Farms 
on Which Produced 

Per Cent of Farms 

All Farms 

2 550 407 


1 . Corn 

2 250,580 


2 Eggs 

2 049 996 


1 953 160 


4 . Cotton 

1 872 326 


5. Milk Cow 

1 605 074 


6 Chickens 

1 599 427 


7. Butter 

1 377 681 


8. Hay and forage 

1 167 489 


9. Pigs 

1 111 863 


10. Sweet potatoes 



1 1 . Cane for Syrup 



545 014 


13. Oats 

364 901 




before sale and in the check up of neighborhood gins the landlord 
may protect himself against theft before settlement. A stock 
farm may suffer loss from ill treatment of animals but "any fool 
can grow cotton." Thus when no credit is forthcoming for 
diversification or mixed farming, landlords and supply merchants 
can always be found to stake the cotton farmer from cropper to 

Then again the peak loads of man labor in cotton come exactly 
at times when other crops need attention. Cotton is not yet 
adequately mechanized and its planting, chopping, and picking 
cannot be shifted or speeded up by machinery. The National Asso- 
ciation of Farm Implement Manufacturers estimated in 1924 that 
modern machinery had saved American farmers 1,382,000,000 days 
o work in one year. These figures, if accepted, provide for the 
10,953,158 persons listed as engaged in farming in 1920 an average 
saving of 127 days a year. But a small fraction' of this saving fell 
to the lot of the cotton growers. Depending on yield, it requires 
30 to ;ioo hours of human labor to pick an acre of cotton. The! 
amount of farmer's time required to pick an acre of cotton would 
grow three acres of corn in Iowa or four acres of wheat in Kansas. 
Hand picking is the neck of the bottle which retards the applica- 
tion of machinery to planting and chopping. The machine does 
the work of many men and pays their labor return to its owner. 
Cotton's hitherto successful defiance of the machine has kept the 


cost of production extremely high and has drafted women and 
children to work in the field. According to 1920 figures, 19.8 per 
cent of all females ten years of age and over on farms in ten cot- 
ton states served as field laborers. The Census of Occupations prob- 
ably underestimates the number of women engaged in agriculture. 
Of the 1,084,128 women so listed, in the United States in 1920, 
eighty per cent were found in ten cotton states. Of every hundred 
women field laborers 68 were Negroes and 32 white. 

Add to this fact that the crop is produced with a large propor- 
tion of expensive credit. A Federal Reserve study in 1923 found 
that only 12 per cent of the cotton producers were able to finance 
the entire growing process without aid. From 50 to 90 per cent, 
depending on the locality, "borrow in the spring and continue until 
the cotton is marketed." The forms of security most used are, 
first, personal notes with one or more endorsements, second, mort- 
gages on live stock, and, third, crop liens. Bank credit at interest 
rates averaging around 8.5 per cent is available for only the upper 
groups. Much of this comes to the growers at second hand through 
fertilizer dealers, landlords, and supply merchants. An examina- 
tion of the studies available in this subject indicate that tenants 
and croppers may expect to pay around 25 per cent interest for 
this credit. Thus the grower's standard of living is lowered by 
the fact that one fourth of his expenditure during four to eight 
months goes into interest charges rather than consumers' goods. 
On the other hand the creditor has assumed in a single crop system 
both the production hazards and the market risks of the cotton 
grower. His extension of credit verges on pure speculation and 
high interest rates are his only protection. 

It can easily be seen that in time of prosperity the credit institu- 
tions possess a vested interest in the cotton system which tends to 
perpetuate it. What is not so often realized is that in times of de- 
pression and failure the same system provides for the survival and 
perpetuation of the failing cotton farmer. He may fall to a lower 
level but he survives as a cotton producer. Croppers can enter 
the system empty-handed and compete against owners. They will 
have houses, lands, teams and tools furnished. Growers may fail 
and pass their losses on to merchants, landlords, and creditors but 
they will be furnished somehow and grow cotton the next year. 
The workers comprise the first charge on the industry. The cot- 


ton system like the Lord will provide, and under the "benevolent 
feudalism" of plantation and tenancy the inadequate producers 
will continue to overproduce cotton. The dire want following 
the initial devastation of the boll weevil furnished the first great 
exception to this condition and is held to account for a general ex' 
odus of Negro farmers from the eastern belt. 

At all times there exists in the cotton system a tendency to ex- 
pansion and overproduction. The lure of the cash crop meets 
a simple routine to which workers have been trained by long 
habituation. When new lands open up as in West Texas there is 
a completed culture complex with its human factors ready to oc- 
cupy for the cotton system. The attitude ranges all the way from 
the simple desire of the farmer for more land, to grow more cot- 
ton to make more money, to plans like the following for an un- 
assailable monopoly for the South. 

This threefold increase of the crop (to 30 million bales) can be brought 
about by increasing, by means of improved agriculture, the productivity 
of the land, and by reclamation of land along the Mississippi Valley. If 
this increase could be accomplished; if the labor could be found to handle 
it; if the markets for it could be secured in such volume that the price 
could remain near to its present standard; and if our capacity to spin and 
weave our share of the increase could be maintained, the Southern States 
would become the richest portion of the earth. The opportunity to de- 
velop the potentialities of cotton in field and in mill, to train and handle 
the labor involved in the development which would cover the whole field 
of the poor white, the immigrant and the Negro, to evolve the financial 
genius to move and market his world staples, makes of the Southern 
States a field for industrial talent and industrial leadership unsurpassed 
in the world. 18 

Such a view ignores the competing cotton areas of the world, areas 
which in the opinion of many students are becoming of increasing 


In the expansion of cotton cultivation the Southwest has gained 
at the expense of the old Cotton Belt. The area west of the Missis- 
sippi first forged ahead of the eastern areas in 1920 while the only 
eastern state to show consistent gains in cotton acreage is Mississippi. 
In speaking of the cotton culture complex we have confined our 

18 James A. B. Scherer, Cotton as a World Power, pp. 312-13. 


attention to the Southeastern, Gulf, and Delta sections where prac- 
tices are more nearly standardized, leaving other developments to 
be treated in a chapter on the Southwest. We shall also find the 
traits in cotton culture more nearly uniform in regard to the 
small farmer so often characterized by twenty acres and a mule. 
Average cotton acreages per farm growing cotton in the Southeast 
are small, ranging, for example, from 13 for Tennessee to 20 for 
Georgia. We shall find that characteristic traits of cotton culture ap- 
pear as responses to environment rather than responses to race. Crop- 
pers, tenants, and small owners, whether white or black, have devel- 
oped pretty much the same practices and ways of living in the east- 
ern portion of the Cotton Belt. The one exception to be found is the 
plantation zones of the Mississippi Delta which deserves special treat- 
ment in a later chapter. 

To focus attention on a specific area will serve to make definite 
the picture of the common man of the South as cotton farmer. 
For 1924-26 the Department of Agriculture made a most illuminat- 
ing study of the living conditions of white cotton farmers in a 
Piedmont county of Georgia. 19 There can be found on a com- 
parable basis within this area 52 counties in the old Cotton Belt 
none of which has a population less than 75 per cent white. The 
Department estimates that perhaps 100,000 families in and along 
the borders of the southern Piedmont live no better than those here 
described. Here in a population six sevenths native-born white, 
we find that two thirds of the farmers are tenants on farms valued 
at less than $2,000 each. The average farm family consisting of 
ifive members consumed for family living, goods to the amount of 
$687.14 in value. Their cash expenditure for food during the year 
was about $22 per person. On the average, 57.6 per cent of the 
living, $396.07, was supplied from the farm. Their average net 
cash income was $424 per family. This was made from farms 
which averaged eight acres in cotton, thirteen in corn, and four 
in other crops. Croppers, who made up one fourth of the farm 
population, cultivated on the average 24 acres; tenancs, 26 acres; 
and the landlord with his tenants, 48 acres. Only one work animal 
was found on 40 per cent of the farms and only 14 per cent had 

"Howard A. Turner and L. D. Howell, "Conditions of Farmers in a White 
Farmer Area of the Cotton Piedmont," 1924-1926, U. S. D. A. Circular 78, 1929, 
p. 47- 


over two. After they had paid ordinary living expenses averaging 
$291 per family, these farmers had left $133 to be applied to debts 
or added to their capital. 

Although these people have developed but meager wants, their 
needs easily exceed their incomes. Thirty-four per cent of the 
families live in houses of one thickness of lumber while only 26 
per cent possess automobiles or have their houses screened against 
flies. The expenditures of the average family for books, magazines, 
recreation, amusement, education, and religion amounted to $24 
per year. It was almost equalled by their only luxury, $15 per year 
for snuff and tobacco. In the use of automobiles for private purposes 
farm owners spent fourteen dollars, renters, six dollars, and croppers 
less than one dollar a year. Most of these farmers attended churches 
whose ministers were farmers, themselves, serving practically with- 
out remuneration. Their wants would be much more scantily sup- 
plied but for the fact that 92 per cent of the housewives have cheap 
sewing machines and make part of the clothing for the family. 
The exodus of young people from these farms is increasing. Forty- 
seven per cent of owners' sons who have grown up have left the 
farm to go into other occupations besides agriculture. Only 29 
per cent of croppers' children leaving home, however, have deserted 

A study of conditions in a cotton area of North Carolina re- 
enforces the conclusions arrived at in the Piedmont county of 
Georgia. It vividly points out differences between land owning and 
landless classes, white or black, in cotton culture. In many in- 
stances the small cotton grower falls short of attaining standards of 
comfort or even decency. For those who possess a gift for figures, 
Table XIX compiled by Carl C. Taylor will afford, at a glance, a 
clear cut picture. 20 

The socially developed traits in this complex are well known. 
Out of this background one may expect a high degree of mobility. 
A study by the Department of Agriculture in 1922 estimated a 
shifting of occupants on 19 per cent of all farms in the United 
States, 27.7 per cent of tenants and 6 per cent of owners moving. 
In eight cotton states, however, 30 to 40 per cent of all farms 
showed a change of occupants. Having nothing to lose, tenants 

20 Given in Dwight Sanderson (ed.)> Farm Life and Farm Income, p. 148. 
















Equity per family 
































$ 72.15 










Equity per person 
Per cent who are insolvent. . . . 
Annual cash income per 

Average number of rooms per . 

Per cent of homes with 

Per cent of homes with lights 
other than oil lamps 

Per cent of homes with 
kitchen sinks 

Per cent of births at which 
doctor was in attendance. . . 
Per cent of parents who can. . . 
read and write 

Per cent of families who take. . 
papers and magazines 
A verage number of books in 

Number of times members of 
family have participated in 
recreation during year 
Per cent of families who own 

Per cent of parents in favor of 
consolidated schools, road 
bonds, college education, 

*Data from Economic and Social Conditions of North Carolina Farmers, Carl C. Taylor and C. C. 
Zimmerman, Bureau of Economics and Social Research, North Carolina State College of Agriculture, 
Raleigh, North Carolina, 1922. 

are easily led to move by a desire to secure better land or more 
agreeable landlords. Tenants, however, usually move within their 
own immediate neighborhoods. Only a fifth of 1,370 moves in a 
Georgia county were found to involve distances of ten miles or 
over, while 29 per cent were for less than two miles. 

The lack of ownership in house or farm encourages shiftlessness 
as well as mobility. Possessing by law no right in his tenancy 
and no claim for improvements made, the cotton renter has ac- 


quired a shiftless attitude toward the place in which he lives. This 
is borne out by the common complaint by landlords of houses 
started on the road to ruin, fences torn down for firewood, and 
lands lacerated by erosion. With nothing to lose and all to gain, 
the tenant may adopt a policy verging on exploitation and expropria- 

Cotton has created another culture pattern for the South. The 
seasonal and cyclical nature of his money income not only serves 
to give the cotton grower a shifting standard of living but throws 
him back upon credit and prevents his acquiring habits of thrift. 
After a season of deprivation and close living on niggardly credit 
comes the sale of the crop and cash income to be husbanded if 
possible until the sale of next year's crop. The income of the 
cotton grower has its peaks of high prices but these peaks are 
not planned for and they do not serve to level up the general 
standard of living. In the Cotton Belt luxuries are likely to be 
bought on the spun of the moment during a good season in cot- 
ton and to be paid for in the poverty of next year's living. One 
can neither exercise a systematic thrift, budget expenses, nor in- 
dulge in installment buying on irregular returns from cotton. 

The Cotton Belt, it may be concluded, offers the spectacle of a 
region in which the culture of a plant has deeply impressed the 
mode of life and characterized the habits and activities of its people. 
The cotton plant lays down an annual cycle of activities concerned 
with planting and cultivating, gathering and marketing of the 
crop which in turn has its effect upon social life and institutions. 
Thus the school, the church, and the community agencies find 
their seasons of intense activity during the two respites of cotton 
culture, for a few weeks in the late summer between the last 
chopping and the first picking and for two or three months in 
the winter between the last picking and the preparation of the 
ground for the next crop. The demands for hand labor perpetuate 
the field work of women and children, place a premium on a high 
birth rate, and otherwise affect the standards of domestic life. 
The demands of the cotton crop are greatest at precisely the period 
required for tending other crops and thus impede diversification. 
Furthermore, since cotton is food for neither man nor beast and 
cannot be disposed of except through the local gin, it furnishes 
an excellent basis for the crop lien system of credit which in 


turn further fixes the tradition of the one crop system upon the 
Cotton Belt and tends to limit the diet of the cotton farmer to 
the deadly monotony of meat, meal and molasses. 

The cotton farmer is peculiarly subject to speculative risks of 
the market since his is one staple grown in America that can con- 
tribute nothing directly consumable by the farm family. Thus 
without adequate diversification, the risks of the market com- 
bine with the risks of the weather and the weevil to make the 
climb to ownership all the more difficult, to encourage speculation, 
to perpetuate tenancy and its attendant evils, inadequate housing, 
inefficient methods of agriculture, isolation, dependence on credit, 
backward community institutions, illiteracy, mobility, shiftlessness. 
and lack of thrift. Chained by inability to finance experiments 
and diversification, southern agriculture seems bound today to 
landlords, supply merchants, and credit institutions who hold the 
economic keys but are powerless to unloose the captive. 

Devotion to cotton, belief in its expansion, lack of cooperation 
in planting and production programs continue. It cannot be 
claimed that by nature southern farmers are inept and shiftless. 
It is, for instance, the experimental activities not of technical agri- 
culturists but of farmers themselves that introduced rice produc- 
tion on the Louisiana and Arkansas prairies, the culture of bright 
tobacco into South Carolina, and Spanish peanuts into the corn- 
fields of Georgia. 21 Moreover, southern farmers have led many 
excursions in trucking, orcharding, and specialized farming only 
to witness local production expand beyond local markets and 
pull ruin down upon their heads. There is a needed and necessary 
place for cotton as a cash crop in southern agriculture. It is also 
possible that cotton can in the future be sufficiently mechanized 
to still its voracious demands for hand labor. If so, the unique 
features of cotton culture may be pruned off and the plant may 
come to occupy a normal and a legitimate niche in a balanced 
economy. Any adequate discussion of the rationalization of cotton 
must, however, be postponed to our chapter on regional recon- 

21 H. H. Bennett, Soils and Agriculture of the Southern States, p. 13. 




IF IN ITS SOCIAL effects tobacco is surprisingly like cotton, in its 
geographic conditions it differs greatly. In relation to tenancy, 
share cropping, and "furnishing," the two crops have developed 
similar conditions, oftentimes as complementary crops. In their 
demands upon soil and climate and in cultural routines the plants 
differ widely. The significant botanical fact about tobacco is its 
surprising variability. When other plants, because of change in 
soil or climate, would refuse to grow, tobacco proceeds to develop 
new variations. It is these variations in size, structure, delicacy of 
fibre, fragrance, porosity, color, and secretion of resinous substances 
that give the leaf its commercial values of quality and flavor. In 
hardly any other product is it found that variations in quality meet 
with such wide ranges in price. In the field of consumption a 
sophisticated market leading to secret buyers' grades meets in pro- 
duction technical methods of curing and variations produced by 
soil, breeding, and fertilization. 

Possessing a much greater geographic range than cotton, tobacco 
adapts itself to climate, soils, and cultural situations. Valuable to- 
bacco can be grown farther north than most grain crops. "In 
New England, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin tobacco is ready for 
the harvest within eight weeks from the time of transplanting to 
the fields, but in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Caro- 
lina from 1 10 to 140 days are required to ripen the leaves." 1 A 
northern climate tends toward the growth of leaves of large size, 
thinness, and weak aroma suitable for cigars. The sun of southern 
latitude produces a smaller more aromatic leaf of heavier body. 
The three main types in the United States are the cigar leaf of the 

*J. B. Killebrew, "Tobacco," Publications American Economic Association, 1904, 
p. 136. 

[20 5 ] 


Connecticut Valley, hurley of the Kentucky Blue Grass, and bright 
tobacco of the southeastern slope. The last two are of importance 
in southern economy. 

The variegated checkerboard of soil plaques furnishes the 
foundation of tobacco qualities. The choice seed from Cuba and 
Sumatra planted in a given area will in the course of time, it is 
said, run into the one variety best suited for soil and climate. The 
chewing, smoking, cigarette, and snuff tobaccos thus each have 
a special locality. In each section there will be found only a small 
area of the soil that produces a quality of highest commercial 
value. A stone's throw from a strip of soil growing the finest 
quality will be found lands producing plants, luxuriant but prac- 
tically worthless to the trade. The introduction of seed from fancy 
varieties soon finds the plants breeding to the level of the soil type, 
while the use of fertilization may serve only to accent the original 
qualities of the soil, and beyond certain definite limits it increases 
quantity at the expense of aroma and color. 

White burley, which has changed sections of the Kentucky Blue- 
grass into a tobacco region, represents a remarkable variation due 
both to climate and soil. A soil, gray in color, rich in humus and 
the debris of disintegrated limestone, produces a leaf of low nicotine 
content and porous enough to absorb juices used in making plug. 
The most striking variation of species produced by soil, however, 
is that of yellow tobacco in the Bright Belt on which hinges the 
popularity of the cigarette. The story goes that in 1852 two brothers 
planted a crop of tobacco on a sandy ridge in Caswell County, 
North Carolina. The soil was thin, light in color, poor in plant 
nutrition, but porous and friable. The plants of the dark, heavy 
type when set out grew very slowly, changed from green to golden 
yellow and developed when cured a lemon hue and an unusually 
sweet aroma. At the market the tobacco brought a fancy price 
and soon sprang into demand by northern manufacturers for the 
best plug. It spread to whitish and yellowish sterile sandy soils 
first in the border Piedmont and after 1880 into the Carolina Coastal 
Plain. The relation between color of soil and of tobacco is distinct. 
Pale soils grow a yellow leaf; reddish or chocolate clayey soils fur- 
nish the rich, dark, heavy export tobacco; while on the gray soils of 
Kentucky is found the white burley. To fertilize the plant heavily 
is to make the leaves darker and stronger. 


The theory in growing the best type of yellow tobacco is that the soil is 
a sponge, which must have the capacity to receive and retain just enough 
fertilizing matter to support the plant until it reaches a proper size. 
After that it is best that the fertilizer be exhausted so that the plant may 
go into a gradual decline in its vitality, like the hickory leaf in autumn 
growing more and more yellow, more and more delicate in tissue, more 
and more beautiful and storing up more and more sweetness until it is 
harvested. It was soon discovered that too much manure applied to the 
soil would destroy the best qualities of the leaf, vitiate its fragrance and 
diminish its brightness of color. 2 

The initial effect of the introduction of bright tobacco was to 
revive the social economy of a worn-out soil belt in North Carolina. 
Border counties of Virginia and North Carolina, covered for years 
with dwarf oaks, broomsedge and pines, were reclaimed by the 
use of commercial fertilizers and became the choicest lands for 
growing bright tobacco. Land sterile and abandoned which could 
be bought for fifty cents an acre in 1875 advanced to fifty dollars 
an acre in 1905. In good years $150 to $300 might be made from 
one acre of high quality tobacco. Manufacturers of tobacco prod- 
ucts sprang up, the network of railways was extended, and cen- 
ters of trade like Lynchburg, Richmond, Winston-Salem, and 
Durham were born or gained new growth. As the area extended, 
overproduction lowered the price. At the same time consolidation 
of small tobacco manufacturers enabled the larger units to store 
up reserves for curing and thus to be freer than growers from the 
exigencies of competition and the market. For many reasons, to- 
bacco culture has not made its farmers permanently prosperous. So 
far short of improving the cultural landscape of the southeast 
has it fallen that an acute student and observer like J. Russell Smith 
can well write: 

The tobacco territory is a disheartening sight to the traveller who is ac- 
customed to well-kept fields and a neat countryside. The first impression 
is that everyone has recently moved away save a few who cultivate a 
patch of corn and tobacco here and there. This is so because of the sys- 
tem of cultivation. The man who may own 100 acres of land will derive 
all his money income from three to eight acres of tobacco. This with a 
patch of corn for his work animals, comprises his entire cultivated area. 
After a few crops the land is so impoverished and gullied that it is al- 
lowed to rest. 3 

*Ibid., pp. 137-38. s North America, pp. 183-84. 


In tobacco culture quantity is gained at the expense of quality, 
and quality brings the higher returns. The plant requires in- 
tensive cultivation and this serves to keep the acreage per farm 
exceptionally low. According to the 1920 Census, tobacco acreage 
represented 8 per cent of the total improved land on tobacco farms 
in Kentucky, n per cent in Virginia, and 17 per cent in North 
Carolina. The cultural routine is year around and so emphatic 
in its demands of hand labor that, according to a folk saying, it 
takes thirteen months a year to grow tobacco. The hand labor 
of minute and varied detail required to nurture this temperamental 
plant has descended as a heritage from slave women and children 
to the farmer's family of today. Olmsted quoted an observer who 
held "men are worth too much for growing corn to be employed 
in strolling through tobacco looking for worms" and concluded 
that tobacco continued to be cultivated because a class of labor 
good for nothing else can be put to work growing the leaf. 4 

The intensity of cultural routines in tobacco is shown by the 
extent of man labor in the crop. Horse and man labor furnish 
the greater part of the cost of growing tobacco, ranging from 45 
to 65 per cent. Records secured and averaged by the Department 
of Agriculture show that 262 hours of man labor produce an 
acre of Kentucky dark, 375 hours, an acre of Kentucky burley, and 
403 hours, an acre of Georgia bright tobacco. An idea of the com- 
paratively small use of even simple horse-drawn machines may 
be gained from the average of horse labor required per acre: only 
89 hours in the dark, fire-cured area, 98 hours for burley, and 90 
hours in Georgia bright. 5 

The endless care required in tobacco culture is suggested by 
the fact that no general principles of cultivation can be worked out. 
The best adviser to the tobacco farmer in cultivation and curing 
may be an old settler who knows the local soil and growing con- 
ditions. The chief drawback in the introduction of the culture 
to new regions is the lack of such local knowledge; and in many 
new areas an experienced tobacco man must be engaged to in- 
struct the farmers. In new Georgia areas the demonstrator re- 
ceives as high as ten per cent of the crop or $8 per acre. Pains- 

4 Journey Through the Bac\ Country, pp. 339-40. 

6 "History and Status of Tobacco Culture," U. S. D. A. Yearboo{, 1922, Sep- 
arate 885, pp. 426-27. 


taking care in tobacco culture is confronted by the large number of 
operations requiring hand labor. Care of the plant bed, preparation 
of the field, transplanting, cultivation, topping, worming, sucker- 
ing, spraying, harvesting, curing, stripping, and marketing make up 
an almost endless round of toil. 

The picture of cultivation here presented, true in the main, 
is a composite from several localities and will fit no one given area. 
It serves to outline, however, the cultural routine of those who 
work in tobacco fields. The seed are so small they cannot be sown 
broadcast. First, the seed bed must be prepared, its soil pulverized 
and fertilized, possibly brush burned upon it to destroy bacteria, and 
then weeded by hand. The growth of plants, requiring six to eight 
weeks, demands about twenty hours labor per acre and furnishes, 
say, 3 per cent o the cost of production. The preparation of the 
field in parallel ridges, rows, and mounds to receive the plants, 
also requires about 20 hours. The transplantation of the plants, an 
operation requiring much care and back-bending labor, accounts 
for 25 to 30 hours. Transplanting begins about March 21 in South 
Georgia and starts a month later in the Carolina fields. In the 
border belt it starts about May i; in bur ley, by May n to 21. 
The six cultivations which may be needed, together with constant 
weeding, will take another 25 to 40 hours. In order to concentrate 
the strength of the plant in fewer leaves the top buds must be 
pinched off. The lower leaves more likely to spoil, are cut off 
for the same reason. Sprouts called suckers grow out from the 
axis of the plant and these must also be cut off. This must be 
done in June or early July. Horn worms appear in great droves 
to devour the leaves and are to be killed or picked off by hand. 
In bright tobacco these processes together with spraying will use 
over sixty hours of the farmer's time for each acre in tobacco. The 
great variations in labor routine come in process of harvesting, 
curing, stripping, and marketing. In bright tobacco the leaves are 
plucked from the stalk as they ripen while in burley and dark 
the stalks are cut. In general, tobacco is ready to be cut and housed 
three months after transplanting. In the Coastal Carolinas the 
process begins as early as July u, in other sections from August 20 
to September 14. In Georgia areas harvesting thus requires over 
no hours while in Kentucky it ranges from 25 to 60. 

In its perishable nature tobacco partakes of the characteristics 


of a trucking crop. Accordingly, a unique and important task 
requiring skill and care falls to the southern farmer in the curing 
of his tobacco. It requires the use of a specially constructed build- 
ing, the tobacco barn, and accounts for an average of 59 work 
hours per acre. This process saves the crop from spoilage and im- 
parts to the leaf those peculiar qualities on which depends the 
value of the farmer's year-around toil. Curing represents a nice 
excursion into plant physiology in which the tobacco leaf is forced 
to undergo a process of gradual starvation without being pre- 
maturely killed. The leaf must be harvested just at the time when 
an adequate balance has been reached in the replacement of green 
coloring matter by starchy food supply. The leaf after harvest 
continues to live on the reserve food supply until the drying process 
is completed. To kill the leaf by drying before the process of diges- 
tion is completed or to allow the reserve food supply to become ex- 
hausted before the leaf is dry is to spoil the tobacco in curing. 
The living cells are killed by excessively low or high temperatures 
and by loss of water. The loss of water in drying is determined 
by heat and humidity; hence the necessity for barns and care- 
ful handling of flue heating and ventilation. In the bright belt 
the leaves are strung on sticks, suitable for arranging tier by tier 
in the curing barn. The heat is furnished by sheet iron flues lead- 
ing from small furnaces at one end of the barn, and ventilation 
is provided. The yellowing process is started slowly at 80 since 
care must be taken not to kill the leaf by drying tod rapidly. As 
the leaf begins to yellow, the humidity must be decreased by raising 
the temperature and increasing the ventilation until there comes 
the critical period called "fixing the color." This is done by re- 
moving the moisture as fast as it is given off by the leaf, for mois- 
ture retained after the leaf is yellowed leads to splotches of red 
and brown called "sponging." If heat is increased while the leaf 
remains full of sap a greenish black color develops known as 
"scalding" or "blistering." If the curing stage is passed success- 
fully the tobacco is held at home until time for its conditioning 
for the market. 6 

The methods developed in marketing are again unique, and 
here the tobacco farmer is at a greater disadvantage than the cotton 

"W. W. Garner, "Tobacco Curing," U. S. D. A. Farmers' Bulletin 523, 1928, 
pp. 3-9, 1 6. 


grower. Cotton possesses grades of uniform standards for which 
there exist world-wide prices known to every farmer who glances 
at his paper. The tobacco farmer cannot grade his product by 
uniform standards, and, if he did, he would find no quotations 
to guide him in its sale. Nor can the tobacco farmer hold his 
product of! the market in the face of unfavorable prices. Even 
after curing, his product remains perishable and must be soon 
subjected to redrying processes by the manufacturer if it is to be 
saved. The cotton grower hauls his bales to market and there 
his expenses cease. Tobacco in the South, however, is sold under 
an auction system in which the farmer pays the charges. 

He prepares the leaves as soon as cured into soft, pliable con- 
dition and assorts them roughly as to quality, length, and color. 
This is a form of guess work, for the grower knows neither to 
what grades his product belongs nor for what uses it is fitted. The 
leaves are tied into bundles and the bundles hung on laths to pre- 
vent tangling and breaking of the fibres. It is then conditioned 
for market by exposure to moisture, sometimes by sprinkling with 
water. About 70 hours of work per acre, only 18 per cent of the 
total labor, in the Georgia area went for preparing and hauling 
the crop to market. 

At the warehouse the loose leaves are arranged on the floor in 
piles and the buyers for large companies inspect the product to 
find within which of the private grades of his company it falls. 
The warehouse system gives the buyer the convenience of cen- 
tralized public market where he may have choice among assorted 
grades. It gives the seller the advantage of open competition among 
buyers. Having roughly determined the grade, the buyer knows 
the limit his company allows him to bid on the lot. The auctioneer 
conducts the bidding at breakneck speed in a singsong jargon from 
pile to pile. In some markets, it has been stated, the rules require 
an auctioneer to sell as many as 240 lots of tobacco an hour. The 
price, name of buyer, and grade are tagged on each lot. If dis- 
appointed in the price offered,; the farmer may refuse it and have 
the lot put up for auction a second time or removed to another 
warehouse. If he accepts the offer, he receives a check for the 
amount less an auction fee, a weighing charge, and a commission 
for selling. Meyer Jacobstein has estimated that with a storage fee 
of $1.50 and sampling fee of $1.00 on each hogshead, an auction 


fee of 25 cents per sample, an insurance fee of one half per cent 
value, and a warehouse commission of three per cent, with freight 
and drayage included, the warehouse may get as high as ten per 
cent of the gross selling price. 7 

With tobacco ranging in price from one cent to two dollars a 
pound, the farmer who receives, say, a flat rate of 30 cents per 
pound, has no conception of tobacco grades and remains ignorant 
of what portions of his crop brought a high price. The tobacco 
farmer sees his market but once a year. Being so constantly em- 
ployed with his farm duties, he takes no time to determine whether 
or not he is making a saleable product. Possessing no standard 
grades or market quotations, he gain$ his idea of the value of to- 
bacco from his neighbor's experiences without knowing the qual- 
ity of his neighbor's crop. To a large extent it is true that the 
small farmer markets his crop in the dark. The United States 
Bureau of Markets of the Department of Agriculture is now con- 
ducting experiments which will, it is hoped, lead to the acceptance 
of uniform grades. The fact that tobacco must be stored several 
years for aging, and this charge must be borne by the manufacturer, 
does not necessarily operate to the farmer's benefit. In fact it may 
give? the tobacco manufacturers a reserve supply that makes them 
temporarily independent of a short crop with its higher prices. 8 

Such is the labor routine and the seasonal drill of the farmer 
who follows after tobacco. It is truly a crop which wears out men 
and land. In such a culture the hand labor of women and chil- 
dren is accepted as a matter of course. In rural areas of tobacco 
counties in Kentucky, Virginia, and South Carolina studied by 
the Children's Bureau, farm work caused from one half to three 
fifths of all absences from school. Of 563 children in Kentucky 
and 606 children in Virginia and South Carolina working more 
than twelve days, over one third had worked three months in to- 
bacco fields. Few worked less than eight hours a day and almost 
half worked ten hours. More than one fourth of the boys had 
worked four months, beginning with spring plowing and following 
the crop through until the last task was finished in early winter. 
Children kneel, sit, and stoop while their hands are busy at the 

7 The Tobacco Industry, p. 74. 

"See T. J. Woofter, Jr., The Plight of Cigarette Tobacco, pp. 39, 71-74, 75-77. 


tasks of transplanting, suckering, and worming. 9 Worming is to 
many the most disagreeable task of all and parents occasionally pay 
children five or ten cents for each hundred worms gathered. After 
the harvest children often stay up late into the night watching fires 
at the barn during the curing process. 

These are the demands that soil, climate, the biology of a plant 
grown within the confines of a complex economic system make 
on the lives of men. That tobacco culture remains much the same 
regardless of changing political institutions and vanishing slavery 
systems is indicated by a letter to Lord Baltimore in 1729. 

In Virginia and Maryland Tobacco is our Staple, is our All, and In- 
deed leaves no room for anything Else; It requires the Attendance of all 
our hands, and Exacts their utmost labour, the whole year around; it re- 
quires us to abhor Communities or townships, since a Planter cannot 
Carry on his Affairs, without Considerable Elbow room, within his 
plantation. When All is done, and our Tobacco sent home, it is per- 
chance the most uncertain Commodity that Comes to Markett; and the 
management of it there is of such nature and method, that it seems to be 
of all other, most lyable and Subject to frauds, in prejudice to the poor 
Planters. 10 

Over-expansion and over-production in tobacco, a natural 
tendency in all crops, is not a mere matter of acreage and total 
volume of the crop. Variation in soil, fertilization, and curing 
work unexpected variations in quality. Ignorance of the market 
due to secret buyers' grades and lack of quotations joins these fac- 
tors of nature to lead to the over-production of certain grades at the 
expense of others. 

This risk is hidden, masked by hand tasks, executed by family 
labor. The raising of tobacco, to an even greater extent than other 
agricultural products, is subsidized by family labor. In no other 
way could it absorb the shifting cycle of depressed prices and 
survive. The farmer has never developed enough of a cost ac- 
counting system to assign to himself and family wages for their 
work. Like his brother, the farmer in cotton, he expects a living 
and possible "profits" from his crop, but in his rough and ready 

9 Harriet A. Byrne, "Child Labor in Representative Tobacco-Growing Areas," 
Children's Bureau Publication 115, 1926, pp. 41-42. 

"Letter of Benedict Leonard Calvert, Annapolis, Md., Oct. 26, 1729, to Charles 
Lord Baltimore, published in the Maryland Historical Society's Fund Publication, No. 
34, p. 70. Quoted by U. B. Phillips, Plantation and Frontier, I, 282-83. 


accounting rent is real while family labor is given as a matter of 
course. Accordingly it is often true that crops on which the pro- 
ducer claims to have "made good" would show on any kind of 
balance sheet that assigned to family labor its customary outside 
wages, an actual loss. Hand cultivated crops sold in a fluctuating 
market have their losses masked by a traditional attitude toward 
the labor of women and children and leave the farmer, more often 
than he realizes, in the position of paying for the privilege of grow- 
ing a crop. 

It is this crop which is regarded as offering economic salva- 
tion to new areas of the Southeast. Its spread to a hitherto un- 
tried region is attended with risk and expense. Until the vagaries 
of soil, climate, and curing in relation to the locale and the type of 
tobacco become known, loss is to be expected even with the em- 
ployment of expert help. Such expansion as that into South 
Georgia fastens a new routine of hand labor upon the women and 
children of the family and leads again to over-production. 



(Thousand Pounds) 

(Thousand Dollars) 















North Carolina 

South Carolina 




" 378 





Total South 





281, 054 


The Nation 

"Produce small quantities mainly for home use-. 


Unlike tobacco, two southern staples, rice and sugar, stand defi- 
nitely outside cotton culture. Both are grown in the humid sub- 


tropical belt fringing the Gulf Coast. A strip of coastal prairies, 
25 to 50 miles wide and stretching 250 miles through southwest 
Louisiana and southeast Texas, furnishes the region for rice. In 
its 9 million acres this belt possesses definite geographic conditions 
which help to rank it among the most efficient rice growing areas 
yet developed. In addition, a coastal plain area in Arkansas has 
proved suitable for the crop. 

The discovery and utilization of this splendid area was one 
of those historical accidents which occasionally change the cultural 
landscape. The production of rice in the Carolinas by the tide 
flow system under the routine of slavery had in the Civil War met 
a destruction of capital and a change in labor regime which it 
was vainly trying to overcome. The present rice district was the 
home of great cattle ranches, some of which remain along its 
swampy coastal margins. In 1884 and 1885 a few farmers from 
the wheat states of the Northwest settled on these southern prairies 
so like their own. They found rice grown for home consumption 
by their neighbors who used Oriental methods. It was but a step 
to the adaptation of the machinery of the wheat belt, the gang 
plow, disk, harrow, drill, broadcast seeder, and finally the twine 
binder to the needs of rice culture. By means of small levees and 
interior ditches the intersecting creeks could be diverted to flood 
the level prairies. These levees were cheaply constructed and little 
attention was paid to drainage. The prairies, however, were free 
of injurious grasses, and even if cultivation, spading, stacking and 
threshing were carelessly done, large crops could be grown. "The 
rice fields were handled like bonanza wheat farms of Dakota, 
and fortunes were made." Such conditions could not last. Droughts 
occurred, the creeks failed, and the rice farmers were faced with 
the necessity of providing a permanent water supply. Pumping 
plants for lifting the water 15 to 25 feet from stream bed to fields 
were developed in connection with a system of main and lateral 
surface canals. 

By 1890 the irrigating canals were started in a small way in 
Acadia Parish, Louisiana. Hardly had the system supplied by 
large pumping plants been accepted as a success when it was dis- 
covered that the strata of gravel underlying the surface held the 
underground flow demanded by artesian wells. A six-inch pipe 
driven 200 feet to this water level, it was found, would furnish 


irrigation for 60 to 80 acres of rice. In other sections pipes may 
be sunk to depths of 400 to 600 feet where pressure insufficient to 
bring the water over the top brings it near enough the surface to 
be pumped. Wells may be put down; 30 to 40 feet apart, united 
just below ground level and run by one engine and one pump. 
Eight 4-inch wells, for example, united within twenty feet of the 
surface, run by one 1 6-inch pump and a 50 horsepower engine will 
flood 500 acres of rice. 11 

A fortunate complex of geographic factors thus made possible 
the adjustment of the steel robots of the wheat field to an aquatic 
plant in a startling agricultural development. The prairies are 
far enough from the coast to be comparatively free from disastrous 
wind storms andi the ravages of birds. They are near enough to 
partake of the coastal rainfall, the sea's gift to the rice plant. Rain- 
fall ranges from 40 inches to 55 inches annually, and half of the 
precipitation falls during the growing season. Accordingly only 
about one half of the water used need be artificially supplied. The 
long frostless season of nine months lasts from March first to De- 
cember first and for periods of maximum plant growth, the three 
summer months, the temperature averages 82. 12 It is the soil, 
above all, which has conditioned this alternation of the vegetation 
of the marsh with the machine cultivation of dry land. Underlying 
the prairie is a subsoil of clay which forms a hard pan. The fields 
during flooding thus form a well-nigh perfect basin through which 
little water penetrates. When drained the fields dry soon and com- 
pletely because water has seeped to no appreciable depth through 
the tight formation. The top soil of medium loam with about 
fifty per cent clay forms a perfect balance between sand and humus 
which are too porous and clay which is too compact. The best 
rice lands are said to be the buckshot soils so stiff they can hardly 
be plowed unless first flooded to soften their texture. 13 

Other rice lands in the South are notably inferior in adaptation 
to irrigation and machine cultivation. The Tidal Deltas of South 
Carolina and Georgia, formerly flooded from rivers at high tide 
and drained at low, possess a soil which refuses to take power ma- 

11 S. A. Knapp, "Rice Culture," Farmers' Bulletin, 417, 1910, pp. 27-29. 

12 O. E. Baker, "Agricultural Regions of North America," Economic Geography, 
III, 62-63. 

18 S. A. Knapp, op. cit., p. 8. 


chinery. The alluvial lands of eastern Louisiana, many formerly 
used as sugar plantations, are similarly handicapped by soil fac- 
tors. The inland marshes of Georgia and South Carolina are 
really high lands easily drained. Their water supply from streams 
is unreliable in dry periods and too cold during freshets. 

The labor routine in this type of amphibian machine farming 
offers a significant contrast to methods of rice culture of the Orient. 
As soon as the seed is planted the "sprout" flooding may be applied 
6 to 12 inches deep. Its purpose is to produce germination, and 
the water is allowed to remain until sprouts push through the hulls. 
When the pointed single leaves of the rice plant appear, the "point" 
or "stretch" flooding is applied to force growth ahead of the 
weeds. When the plant reaches six inches growth the water is 
lowered to four inches in depth and held from two weeks to a 
month. A period of dry growth of 40 to 50 days ensues until the 
plants begin to joint. Then the "harvest" flow is released over 
the fields and is held four to five inches deep until just before the 
time to harvest. 14 When drained the ground dries rapidly offering 
firm support to machines which sweep through the rice as though 
it were wheat of the Dakotas. The influence of topography cannot 
be exaggerated. The level prairie not only allows machine cultiva- 
tion and harvesting but conditions the equitable maturing of the 
grain. Unequal depths of water would cause rice to mature at 
varying periods and such rice harvested together would possess the 
commercial value of the lowest grade in the mixture. 

The geographic complex, complete mechanical devices, virgin 
lands, and intelligent management have here met to array Ameri- 
can rice culture against Oriental cultivation in the world-wide 
battles of the industries. For the same reasons the level prairie 
section in east Arkansas between Crowley's Ridge and the Missis- 
sippi, when once it was discovered to possess a tight clay subsoil 
and water available for pumping, became a great rice-growing area. 
Accordingly, the southern rice fields can supply much of America's 
demands and, after paying the freight of its product halfway around 
the globe, undersell Japanese and Chinese rice at home. Figures 
compiled by S. A. Knapp and quoted by O. E. Baker interpret this 

14 C. G. Haskell, "Irrigation Practice in Rice Growing," U. S. D. A., Farmers' 
Bulletin 673, 1915, pp. 11-12. 


Country Acres per Laborer 

Japan l / 2 to i 

China Y 2 to 2 ! / 2 

India 3 

Egypt 4 

Italy 5 

United States 

Carolinas 8 

Mississippi Delta 10 

Louisiana-Texas 80 

"The use of machinery and superior farm organization enables a 
man on these coastal prairies to cultivate perhaps 100 times as 
much land and produce probably 60 or 70 times as much rice as 
a man in Japan or China. The laborer can earn 15 to 20 times as 
large a wage and yet produce rice at one-half as great labor cost." 15 
It seems but just to say that the future of rice farming in the 
South will find its limits to exist in the demand and food habits of 
the people. While, for example, the 1919 Census showed that 
rice furnished three fourths of the value of the crops in the rice 
sub-region, the crop occupied only six per cent of the land area. 
Other crops occupied another six per cent. Furthermore, there 
exist "vast tracts of land along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and 
in the interior that cannot be used for any other agricultural purposes 
without expensive drainage and aeration of the soil." 16 Rice will 
thus remain an important factor, actual or potential, in all semi- 
tropical zones because of its ability to thrive under conditions of 
humidity. Changes in food habits of the American people such 
as might follow upon the diffusion of more palatable methods of 
cooking rice would find this region ready. There are about 10,- 
000,000 acres of land in the five states bordering the Gulf of Mexico 
well suited to rice culture. Only 3,000,000 acres of this can be suc- 
cessfully irrigated under present methods from surface and artesian 
flows. The balance of the area can be brought into cultivation 
only when prices justify such a step. If the crop were allowed 
to ripen by aging, as is done in the Orient, if brown rice retaining 
the essential oils and protein of the kernel's surface could be pop- 

15 Quoted by O. E. Baker, he. cit., p. 63. 
18 Baker, ibid. 


ularized, the rice market might be expanded. The startling spread 
between wholesale and retail prices, ranging from 2% to 4 cents a 
pound and often amounting to 50 per cent of the seller's price, 
also serves to reduce consumption. The method of milling for toll, 
moreover, by neglecting to sort and mill rice in uniform grades and 
styles, has tended to restrict consumption. If the rice millers did as 
the manufacturers in other industries buy the raw product and 
handle the output as their own brands and grades in rice having 
been introduced on the market could be supplied with certainty. 
This task is coming more and more to be regarded as the rightful 
field of the growers' cooperatives and they have done much. 

Here is the contrast with cotton culture. Twenty acres and a 
mule, share tenancy and mobile croppers living on fatback and sirup 
have no place in this economy. It is rather an expanse of great 
farms, of machine agriculture and hired labor. If the tradition 
of slavery once clung to the rice farming of the Carolina coasts it 
was long since removed by wheat farmers from the Northwest. 


Acreage (in thousand 

Production (in thou- 
sand bushels) 

Farm Value (in 
thousand dollars) 















The South 
The United States 







(In thousand bushels) 




Exports (Including to 
Alaska, Hawaii, Porto 





Net Balance of Exports .... 





On the southerly fringe of the Cotton Belt is found that alien 
to our geography, the sugar cane. Were it not for the fact that 


the protective tariff enables Louisiana sugar to be sold for two or 
three times what it costs to produce sugar in Cuba, this exotic plant 
would be grown in the southern United States only for its sirup. 17 
It is safe to say that the difficulties which attend the transfer and 
cultivation of a tropic plant in the semi-tropic climates of Louisiana 
and Texas are reflected in the economic, cultural, and political life 
of the people. The soil of the Mississippi delta in southern Lou- 
isiana, ranking among the richest in the world, is almost ideal 
for sugar cane, a fact which somewhat compensates for its climatic 
drawbacks. High natural fertility, a top soil that retains water, 
and a subsoil permitting rapid drainage provide for the growth 
of cane. Such characteristics are found mainly in sandy loams or 
clays where laid down as alluvial lands. The cane demands dur- 
ing its period of growth large quantities of water; yet suffers from 
lack of aeration if the water is held stagnant near the surface by 
a tight subsoil. The soil, in short, should be such as affords the 
plant the best advantages of humid tropical conditions, heavy rains 
followed by steaming dazzling sunshine. In the sugar areas the 
summer temperature averages 81 F., the annual rainfall is about 
60 inches, and the frost free season extends for some 250 days. Dry 
weather ripening increases the sugar content which in periods of ex- 
cessive rain tends to be "watery." 

The chief handicaps offered by the Louisiana climate in sugar 
production are the threat of frost in early winter and the alterna- 
tion with the growing season of a dormant period unknown in 
the tropics. Cane in Louisiana must be allowed to stand until 
the last minute for the increase of sugar content; but at that it is 
always harvested immature. A warning of low temperatures of 
26 F. from the Weather Bureau will serve to send a large force of 
men to fields for windrowing the seed and mill cane. This process 
consists of cutting, piling, and covering the cane in great rows. 
With such methods cane crops valued at $10,000,000 have been 
saved by timely warnings. If allowed to freeze, the cane bursts 
at its joints, fermentation sets in, and inversion or "souring" of 
the sugar results. In the tropic home of cane sugar, planting is 
not urgent and may extend over a period of five months. In 
Louisiana, however, either planting or protection by windrowing 
the cane must, because of the dormant season, be carried on at 

17 See Philip G. Wright, Sugar in Relation to the Tariff, pp. 244-53. 


the same time as the processes of cutting, transporting, and haul- 
ing. If cane is planted before harvest it may sprout prematurely 
and be killed by the winter's cold. 18 Cane for sirup can be grown 
much farther north because the non-crystallizable sugars found in 
immature cane are to be desired in sirup. 

The unique labor routine in Louisiana sugar cane has been 
analyzed by the economists of the Department of Agriculture. 19 
The crop is characterized by large requirements of heavy manual 
labor. Its chief variations from the cultural routine of most field 
Jcrops inheres in the speeding-up process demanded by harvesting 
and the additional fact that the material for planting constitutes a 
considerable and bulky part of the cane of the previous crop. If 
undertaken in the fall, planting conflicts with harvest and the 
sprouting cane may be winter killed. If undertaken in the spring, 
planting encounters the expense of windrowing and the disagree- 
able work in fields made quagmires by spring rains. 

We may follow an average acre of sugar cane around the season 
with its work crews. If planted in the fall the tasks of harvesting, 
transporting, and covering seed cane require 11.21 days of man 
labor; if planted in the spring, harvesting, windrowing, removing 
from storage, and planting account for 15.67 labor days. Cultiva- 
tion accounts for 12.04 mor e days, fertilization at least half a day, 
and harvesting 10.97 days. Each acre demands from 34 to 39 days 
of man labor and from 20 to 23 days of mule labor. "The American 
farmer, accustomed to the use of labor saving machinery, is loathe 
to perform the large amount of hand labor necessary for successful 
growing of sugar crops." 20 The fact that during the rush period 
all laborers receive a daily wage from 25 to 75 per cent higher 
than that paid during the other seasons does not solve the problem. 
A recourse to small farm production by owners instead of day 
labor under supervision, while solving one problem, would place 
insuperable difficulties in the way of coordination for large scale 

By the very nature of its task the sugar plantation possesses a 
large-scale, closely integrated, capitalistic organization. Many planta- 
tions are very large. The company which owns one or more planta- 

18 E. W. Brandcs, et al. "Sugar," U. S. D. A. Yearboo\, 1923, Separate 893, pp. 


"Brandes, loc. cit., Yearboo{, 1923, pp. 18-30. 
. 98. 


tions may also own a central sugar mill. From two thousand to five 
thousand acres in cane planted within distances of easy communica- 
tion are required to supply such a mill. Both the mill and the 
plantation represent an overhead of fixed costs which must be 
met by efficient processing of the cane. Upon being cut the cane, 
because of the activity of microorganisms in warm climates, is liable 
to rapid inversion. Cutting, stripping, topping, and transportation 
to the mill must be done in the shortest possible time. A network 
of private railways is thus necessary to draw the fields closer to the 
mills, and the cane is hauled in freight cars. Investments in mills 
and tracks are likely to range from half a million to a million dol- 
lars. The necessity for speed when once harvest has begun has 
brought about an organization of transportation and a rigid dis- 
cipline in mill, railway, and field comparable to the efficiency of the 
supply service of an army. A manager of traffic must keep loaded 
trains moving in orderly procession to the mill and see that 
empties are provided wherever needed. The orders for cutting 
are received by field superintendents from a field manager who 
must keep in touch with the mill administrator and traffic manager. 
If, for example, the machinery of the mill breaks down, the fact 
must be communicated to all departments of the plantation and 
be followed by an instant cessation of activities in order to prevent 
an accumulation of loaded trains in the mill yards. 21 The organiza- 
tion, the labor routine, and the pattern of activity is that of the 
factory. The sugar plantation and mill must employ wage labor 
and in many other respects run counter to the traditional picture 
of southern agriculture. 

It is at this point of the labor routine that the impact of an alien 
climate on a tropic plant is felt. A large plantation will employ 
perhaps 100 to 150 wage hands working the year around. Dur- 
ing the combination season of planting and harvesting, through 
November and December, three or four times that many are 
needed, and even then the "best efforts of all hands fall short of 
accomplishing the tasks in a satisfactory manner." A similar, though 
less acute, situation obtaining in the harvesting of cotton is met 
by tenants attached to the soil who furnish family labor during 
emergency. Sugar culture demands too much centralization and 
integration for the typical plantation organization of share tenancy. 

*/</., p. 35. 


The rush work of harvest is too heavy for women and children; 
accordingly no comparison with cotton picking is feasible. Among 
the Louisiana sugar planter's many problems, his chief difficulty is 
securing seasonal labor supply. Since slavery the recurring phases 
of the labor shortage have successively grown more acute. Northern 
industry and near-by oil fields can offer a year around routine that 
leaves the planter without help. The ability to triple the labor 
supply at a seasonable demand presupposes migratory workers or 
a large labor reserve. The last the South has possessed in a meas- 
ure in unemployed and under-employed Negroes. With the shut- 
ting off of immigration, the reserve, much to its own advancement, 
is rapidly being depleted. The one way out for the planter, the 
invention of labor saving machinery, especially a giant cane har- 
vester, has not yet been achieved. 

In area the sugar cane delta contains about 5,200,000 acres. In 
1924 less than one third of the region was included within its 
farms. A' little over one ninth of the area was in crops and the 
average farm had 54 acres under cultivation. 22 The expansion of 
this area is not limited by consumption. During the last 100 years 
the per capita consumption of sugar in the United States has in- 
creased from 10 to over 100 pounds, the highest in the world. 
Cane and sugar beets together furnish hardly one fourth of the 
sugar consumed, while the production from sugar cane is about 
one fourth that from beets. Only 0.2 per cent of all acreage in 
crops in 1927 was planted to sugar. Of the 800,000 acres so planted, 
675,000 were beet lands. 23 

Unless new varieties of cane are developed, the crop seems 
permanently restricted to the soil and climate offered by the Lou- 
isiana sugar bowl. The one exception is offered by new areas be- 
ing open to cane in the Florida Everglades. Development of new 
cane varieties is rendered especially difficult by the fact that, as it 
normally reproduces by sprouting rather than from seed, the plant 
does not readily lend itself to the cross-fertilization necessary in 
growing hybrids. An adequate cane harvesting machine would 
solve the problem of harvest labor supply, lower costs, and expand 
acreage within the bowl. Such a machine in its operation will be 
faced by the fact that the best cultural practice in growing cane 

22 O. E. Baker, loc, cit., pp. 52, 64. 

23 Yearboo\, 1929, pp. 3, 7. 


demands that the plants develop in close formation so that the 
heavy shade may both retard weeds and conserve moisture. 

Fortunately the problems of the industry have lately proved 
less baffling. The flood of 1927 may be regarded as marking a 
definite break with the older type of sugar culture. The spread of 
cane disease had reduced the per acre yield one third to one half, 
so that in 1927 the acreage was one third of that a decade before 
and the production about one fourth. Disease resistant varieties, 
since developed and introduced by the Department of Agriculture, 
have shown as high yields as the old ribbon cane. Especially 
successful in resisting disease is the variety known as PJO intro- 
duced from Java. Since its acceptance the production of sugar 
cane in Louisiana has doubled. This variety has proved the 
greatest single factor in restoring a threatened industry. It has 
produced an average of over 20 tons per acre in all sections of the 
area and shows, moreover, an almost abnormally high sucrose con- 
tent. It reaches 14 per cent in many cases, yielding over 270 
pounds to the ton. Purchase from cane growers on the basis of 
sucrose content has become almost universal, thus allowing the 
small farmer to share in the profit from exceptionally sweet cane. 

Other significant trends in the processing of sugar are a tendency 
towards mergers and the development of by-products. Operating 
companies are being organized to take over and manage several 
plantations. One such company successfully operated during the 














1920 ... 



Sugar in U S 






00 Short Ton 








Beet Sugar Produced 
Cane Sugar Produced 
Production in U. S. and all 

Additional Imported 


1928 season four plantations under one head; another, five. In 
the field of by-products a technique has been evolved of making 
building board from sugar cane refuse. Cane cream developed 
by the chemists of the United States Department of Agriculture 
is expected to attain popularity. A cream-like substance, it looks 
and tastes like caramel and may be used as icings or as a spread 
for breads. 24 Compared with its position not so many years ago 
the sugar industry is improving. Whereas 55 mills with a grind- 
ing capacity of 32,000 tons of cane every twenty-four hours operated 
in the 1928 season, 65 mills produced 200,000 tons of sugar in 1929. 


The growing of fruits and vegetables has given the United 
States a new billion dollar industry. The spread of truck growing 
on the edges and within the Cotton Belt is not so much a proof 
of diversification within the cotton system as it is of the rise of a' 
new specialization on its fringes. Diversification implies home 
gardens whose products in the main do not enter the market. 
Trucking crops, however, are grown entirely for the market and 
their interaction with the cotton system must be confined to the 
acreage and men they take from cotton culture. Less than two per 
cent of the tillable land in the United States is required to pro- 
duce the needed truck crops. The importance of trucking in rela- 
tion to area, however, far outdistances that of other forms of agri- 
cultural production, and the industry in the South deserves presenta- 
tion on its own account. The trucking industry is important 
enough to the South and the Atlantic Coast Line Railway to justify 
the oft-told story, true, by the way, of a trainload of millionaires 
en route to Palm Beach run off on a siding to wait for a train of 
cabbages to pass. 

Two types of areas are found in the South devoted to these 
crops: interior and coastal. Only the coastal strip can be said to 
form any connected trucking region. Inland market gardening 
has grown up in limited districts around large cities. The land oc- 
cupied is relatively high priced because of its urban proximity, 
and the production is diversified. These crops hit the peak of pro- 
duction rather than the peak of prices. Accordingly such growers 
survive simply because they are freed of much of the expense of 

* A. W. Dykes, "Sugar," Blue Boo\ of Southern Progress, pp. 104-5. 




transportation, packaging, refrigeration, and grading. Proximity 
also enables them to deliver fruits and vegetables in the natural state 
of ripeness rather than ripened artificially. 

Five specialized long distance trucking areas can be pointed 
out in the United States, three of them in the South. The Pacific 
Coast, the Northern States east of the Rocky Mountains, the Gulf 
Coast, the Atlantic Coast, and the Inland South stand out as dis- 
tinct trucking regions. 25 In some respects Florida deserves sep- 
arate treatment as the most distinct trucking community in 
America. The extent of truck crops, when measured either in 
acreage or bushels, is not a true index of their agricultural impor- 
tance to the South. These fruits and vegetables are available at 
periods when the market demands early products and their value 
is likely to be much greater than either acreage or bulk would 
imply. 26 

Soil and climate of the coastal strips are suited to give growing 
fruits and vegetables what they most need, water and sunshine. 
Areas of level topography fronting either on the Gulf or the At- 
lantic possess mild and equable temperatures. Sandy soils and 
heavy rainfall absorb the warmth and hold the moisture needed 
for watery products. Texture of soil is intimately related to 
warmth which hastens the maturity of growth. "Soil," says O. E. 
Baker, "supplies little more than sunshine, showers, and support 
the plant is fed fertilizer with a precision based on scientific knowl- 
edge." 27 The earliest crops of vegetables come from light, porous, 
well-drained, warm, dry soils. The swing of the trucking season 
up the Atlantic Coast lasts six months from January to June. The 
influence of soil texture and the advance of the season has been 
summarized by Milton Whitney in six periods. 

Each of the localities can in normal seasons count on from two to three 
weeks advance in crop maturity over the locality North, and this is the 
period in which they can market their crops at the greatest profit. Fur- 
thermore, there is about the same interval of two or three weeks in the 
time of maturity of crops on the several grades of soil. . . . The yields 
from the very early sandy soils are light; the quality of vegetables is not 

28 Fred J. Blair, "Development and Localization of Truck Crops in the United 
States," U. S. D. A. Yearboo^, 1916, pp. 1-2. 

36 William Stuart, "Potato Production in the South," U. S. D. A. Farmers' Bul- 
letin 1205, 1923, pp. 3-4. 

27 In Economic Geography, V, 44. 




Acreage, 1924- 

Cantaloupes and 

Onions (dry) 
Sweet corn 

6A3CO OK r*c CIMSV3 

FIGURE 17. The most important area of commercial vegetable production extends trom New i ork 
City to Norfolk, Va. In this area about one-fifth of the Nation's commercial crop is produced. This 
commercial crop includes cabbage, cantaloupes and muskmelons, lettuce, onions, (dry) sweet corn, 
tomatoes, and watermelons. A second important area extends from Utica, N. Y., west to Buffalo, Erie, 
and Toledo. Another belt surrounds the southern half of Lake Michigan and extends southward into 
Illinois and Indiana. Several important districts have developed in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, and 
Texas. Florida, southern Georgia, and South Carolina, where perhaps one-third of the winter vegetables 
are grown, constitute an outstanding area. California has three important districts the Sacramento- 
Stockton district, the Los Angeles district, and Imperial Valley. In California the winter crop is very 
important. Smaller centers of production adjoin most of the large cities. (Courtesy of U. S. Department 
of Agriculture). 

FIGURE 18. The percentage of improved land relative to total land area, last available in the 1910 
Census, offers a valuable index to the lay of the land, soil fertility, and economic structure. The South 
stands midway between the well-tilled Corn Belt and the practically unimproved stretches of the arid 
West. The amount of waste, swamp, and untilled land shows surprisingly large in portions of Georgia, 
Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. (Courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture). 



22 9 









Maryland-Delaware . 



Fine Sand 

North Carolina .... 

South Carolina 


Fine sand 




Fine sand 

Sandy loam 

Fine sandy 


Silt loam 

*See Milton Whitney, "Use of Soils East of the Great Plains Region," U. S. D. A. Bureau of 
Soils, Bulletin 78. pp. 15-17. 

as a rule the best; they are very perishable and do not stand transporta- 
tion well. They usually bring high prices, however, because of the great 
demand and limited supply on the market. 

The crop from the fine sand maturing about two weeks later gives a 
larger yield of better quality in every way, which compensates for the 
lower market price and for the competition from the more sandy soils of 
the next northern localities. Georgia, for example, cannot compete in the 
northern markets with truck grown on her heavier soils simply because 
at the time it matures there is such a wide range of soils in more northern 
localities rushing vegetables over an ever-decreasing length of haul to the 
great markets. 28 

"When strawberries, for example, are ready to move from Louisiana, 
Florida shippers know that their season must close. Louisiana in 
turn must usually stop shipping when Tennessee and Arkansas 
begin in earnest." 

All the factors of geography, economics, and technology are 
conditioned by the one important fact in trucking the perishable 
nature of the product. The question in trucking is not how much 
may be grown on an acre but how much during a certain period of 
time. The shipping of vegetables from the. South had to wait on 
fast train or boat service, the refrigerator car, and the artificial man- 
ufacture of ice. It was in 1854 that the steamer Roanoke carry- 
ing the first shipment of 200 barrels of garden truck from the 
Eastern Shore, Virginia, arrived in New York. The refrigerator 
car, first proved practicable in 1872, became influential in the trade 
ten years later. The first artificial ice in the South was made in 

^Ibid., pp. 15-17. 


Norfolk in 1892, ending shipments of ice from Maine. 29 The lo- 
cal manufacture of ice brought the whole South within reach of 
northern markets at once. 

Thus it came about that trucking in the South passed through 
the pioneer stage to full bloom industry within a generation. Great 
stretches of cheap land within easy hauling distance of railroad 
facilities encountered cheap Negro labor used to hand tasks in 
picking and chopping cotton, pulling fodder, and caring for to- 
bacco. Commercial or chemical fertilization had been worked out 
to take the place of manure in a cotton crop system without live 
stock. Such methods were already found for trucking which on 
sandy soil needed its stimulus to force early growth and produce 
full bodied plants. The local ice plant and -the truck haul completed 
the picture. 

All the cheap friable sandy plots on the southern coastal strips 
became potential truck land. The new revival did not proceed 
unchecked by the demands of an intensive agriculture. The 
products from an acre of truck land brought more than the value 
of the land, but the expense of production was also greater than the 
cost of the acre. For trucking counties on Long Island, to take 
an example cited by J. Russell Smith, the average expense per 
cultivated farm acre is $40 for fertilizer and $50 for labor. 30 Com- 
pare with this the returns of $12 to $15 which the wheat grower 
expects from his acre. In such an economy, accordingly, the land 
offers no adequate security for the necessary investment. Neither 
local bankers nor the typical "furnishing" regime of the Cotton 
and Tobacco Belt were able to back truck growers. Many of 
them, especially in Florida, were well educated men who came 
from the North with their own capital. Many more came to be 
financed by the commission merchants who handled their fresh 
products. Others set themselves up in business with the heavy re- 
turns of one or two lucky years. 

All the hazards found in other crops and more are augmented 
in truck by the perishable nature of the crop and its intensity 
of cultivation. Trucking and orcharding are attended with heavy 
risks, yielding the grower bountiful returns in money one year 
and providing an almost total loss the next. Even more than 

29 Wells A. Sherman, Merchandising Fruits and Vegetables, pp. 7, 26-44. 
80 North America, p. 165. 


other farmers the fruit and vegetable grower lives in daily fear 
of weather. His is a product easily damaged by frosts, freezes, 
droughts, excessive moisture, and floods. Replanting, a costly 
operation in trucking, is sometimes necessary several times before 
a crop is secured. Delays and changes due to the weather count. 
To be slightly delayed in relation to other crops swinging up the 
coast ruins the market for truck. Grades count immensely, and 
for fruit and vegetables to be ofl size, of! color, or slightly damaged 
makes them a drug on any but a famine market. 

The whole business of over-expansion has not received adequate 
attention. The startling rise of the use of fresh products is one 
instance where an industry rather than waiting for demand in 
consumers created it by furnishing the supply. The increasing 
market has borne no relation to the slow increase of population. 
It has been rather a function of rapid urbanization with the passage 
of the old-fashioned cellar, the rising standard of living, and 
changing food habits. The acreage devoted to truck has been de- 
veloped at an accelerating speed. This has been due partly to the 
surplus in all staple crops after the World War. Unlike the situa- 
tion in cotton, increases in acreage produce no reaction on fruit 
and vegetable prices until the products actually appear in the 
market. An especially disturbing factor is the operation of real 
estate interests which, by planting bare plots with orange trees or 
truck gardens, are often able to subdivide at profit for themselves 
while creating future market gluts for an entire industry. Vested 
interests meet community pride, and towns from Florida to Cal- 
ifornia are loath to admit there can be too many strawberries, heads 
of lettuce, or bunches of asparagus grown. The fault is with the 
consumer and he must be educated. "Food weeks" and "eat more" 
advertising financed by growers is suggested as the remedy. Such 
thinking overlooks the fact that urban America is already well-fed 
and that advertising will do no more than transfer groups of con- 
sumers from one product to another and back again. Variety 
and novelty will always win its way with the American housewife 
without the aid of advertising. Thus the alligator pear and the 
grape fruit were able to overcome the handicap of misleading 
names and to win a place on the table. "No historian has," says 
Sherman of the United States Marketing Bureau, "recorded the 
Georgia Peach Rush, the Texas Onion Rush, the Northwestern 


Apple Rush, the California Prune Rush, the Grape Rush, the 
Asparagus Rush, the canning Cling Peach Rush, the Lettuce Rush, 
and the Mexican Tomato Rush. . . . Each, however, has left its 
own trail of bleaching financial skeletons to sober the thought of 
the student of our unparalleled development." 31 

An important trend in the development of the industry has 
been the specialization of area. The South is its own worst cus- 
tomer, due both to the lack of urbanization and to the presence 
of home gardens. With areas developed mainly in reference to 
long distance markets, it has paid growers of a locality to become 
proficient in one type of produce. Thus the district around 
Hastings, Florida, is devoted to Irish potatoes, three fourths of 
which are dug and shipped before the end of May. Plant City, 
near Tampa, is devoted to strawberries. Around Sanford, Florida, 
lies the celery delta, a triangular area of 30,000 acres, drained by 
tiles, irrigated by artesian wells, heavily fertilized and intensively 
cultivated. The Virginia Eastern Shores are noted for kale and 
spinach growing. The advantages of local specialization extend 
beyond the obvious one of making up shipments in carload lots. 
Soil plays some part in selecting areas for specialization, although 
the Norfolk fine sandy loam called cabbage soil in the vicinity of 
Charleston, South Carolina, is regarded as prime for lettuce at 
Wilmington, North Carolina, and is selected for Irish potatoes in 
other parts. Tradition and social heritage have much to do with 
retaining specialization after it is once adopted in an area. The 
growers come to possess and hand down the knowledge of the 
particular culture, the labor is skilled in its details, the stores handle 
the packing and crating supplies, and everybody possesses at least 
an elementary knowledge of packing and grading. Finally, co- 
operative associations of producers are formed which among other 
things tend to stabilize and perpetuate the practices of the culture. 
Such associations may buy and keep supplies, run packing houses 
and icing plants, and do the grading for their members. 

In a summary such as this the important distinction between 
trucking and orchard culture must be pointed out. It is essentially 
the difference between the cultivation of annuals and perennials. 32 

n op. dt. t p. 462. 

"Erich W. Zimmermann, "The Resource Hierarchy of World Economy," Welt- 
wirtschajtliches Archiv, XXXIII, 449-51. 


Tree cropping requires much more capital to enter than trucking 
and one must wait periods o varying years for the trees to be- 
gin bearing. Tree culture is thus much more difficult to get into 
and to get out o than trucking. Many of the highly capitalized 
orchards in the South have thus been responsible for effecting the 
importation of large blocks of capital from the North. Again over- 
expansion in any truck crop is noticeable within a year and may 
be checked. The price of fruit, however, does not respond to new 
planting of orchards but goes down, say, six years later when the 
fruit actually reaches market. By that time the orange or peach 
grower has made an investment that can be revoked only by cut- 
ting down his orchard. Thus it has happened that an orchard 
may bankrupt several successive owners before it goes out of 
business itself. 

The Southeastern states make a good showing in tree culture. 
Florida in 1924 possessed 33 per cent of the orange trees and 83 of 
the grape fruit trees of bearing age in the United States. Of the trees 
not yet bearing she possessed 69 per cent of the orange and 58 of 
the grape fruit. 33 Polk, Orange, and Valusia counties each have 
over 500,000 bearing trees. Of all peach trees in the country six 
southeastern states possessed 28.9 per cent in 1924. Georgia led the 
area with over 16 per cent. In several years the total farm value 
of the Georgia Peach crop has exceeded $10,000,000. In Macon, 
Houston, Peach, and Crawford counties peaches are grown by cor- 
porations in tracts of 800 acres or more. These same southeastern 
states possessed, in 1924, 37 per cent of the pecan trees then bearing 
and 47 per cent of those not yet mature. Almost 25 per cent of all 
American pecan trees were found in Georgia. 

When fruits and vegetables are grown for canning their treat- 
ment differs largely from trucking practices. In the first place the 
areas are different. Florida at one extreme, earliest and highest 
price trucking area, has very little canning except that developing 
in tomatoes and grape fruit. The canning industry for the South 
Atlantic Coastal strip centers in Baltimore, the greatest canning 
city in the United States. Crops for canning are grown under 
contract with the factories which must have regular supplies. The 
grower need not bother with watching the market quotations; 
the price is determined upon by group bargaining between canners 

83 See Commercial Survey of the Southeast, pp. 48-55. 


and truck growers before the gardens are planted, and contracts are 
signed a year in advance. The practice is much like the collective 
bargaining of labor unions with employers. Steamboats go up the 
bays and rivers which indent the Eastern Shores and make possible 
easy water transportation to canneries. For this reason there are 
still ten tidewater counties in the Eastern Virginia peninsula with- 
out railroads. Contrary to the popular view, canning and the truck- 
ing market are not likely to compete for the same crops. Truck 
produce is a forced growth out of season, while produce for can- 
ning is grown in the favorable season at less cost. On the other 
hand except in specific products canning cannot be regarded as an 
outlet for the growers' culls. The can possesses a time and form 
utility, as the economist would say, of its own. No crop, however, 
can be shifted from marketing to canning at a moment's notice. 
In the future it is possible, however, that methods of quick freezing 
which have proved of value in the fishing industry may be applied 
to early fruits and vegetables. Firms with processing equipment 
built on truck bodies may find it profitable to follow the seasonal 
swing up the coast. Foods thus treated retain their flavor in the 
frozen package and the process further removes trucking from the 
hazards of the perishable crops. 

At present, however, fruits and vegetables show all the char- 
acteristics to be expected in marketing a perishable product. The 
system of cotton marketing is the result of 150 years' evolution in the 
distribution of one staple, non-perishable crop. Truck marketing 
has developed amid a bewildering variety of fruits and vegetables, 
all perishable and difficult to grade, within one hectic generation. 
Difficulties inhere in the very nature of produce and fruit. There 
are four sets of conditions, for instance, that affect Bermuda onion 
prices: the physical difference inherent in a given lot of Bermudas, 
the factors primarily determining the variations between seasons, 
those factors influencing price fluctuation within a given season, 
and the factors influencing prices at any given point. 34 These 
factors thus range all the way from quality of product, the carry-over, 
the volume and steadiness of shipments, to gluts in local markets. 

In no other field, Mr. Sherman points out, has so great a volume 
of business been done on honor under conditions which make it 

84 W. Mackenzie Stevens, "The Marketing and Distribution of American-Grown 
Onions," U. S. D. A., Bulletin 1283, 1926, p. 53. 


necessary for one party to trust so largely to the good faith of 
another. 35 Abuses have arisen at this point largely because of 
the sudden expansion of the industry. First dealers and commis- 
sion merchants early in the development tended to neglect the local 
growers for the snippers with whom they could make greater 
profits. Then, when the same individual mixed the functions of 
the carload dealer with those of the commission merchant, he in- 
evitably tended to dispose of his own goods before clearing pro- 
duce shipped on consignment. The greatest weakness from the 
grower's viewpoint inheres in the fluctuation of the seasonal cycle. 
Early in the season when supplies are scarce and prices are high 
dealers are on hand with their services. When prices fall with 
the advance of the season buyers leave the section or receive goods 
only on consignment. 36 Thus, when the grower most needs the 
expert selling services of a representative in the market, he is likely 
to be left without them. In no other field has the agent acquired 
so much pov/er over his principal. The tendency has existed until 
recently for the agent or buyer to throw the risks of a falling mar- 
ket upon the grower. This he has been able to do by refusing 
a shipment on the grounds of either defective grades or condi- 
tion, thus forcing a readjustment in price. Earlier in the game 
he was able to attract shipment by sending out individual price 
quotations for his market area. These prices could not and did 
not stand up under the impact of the shipments they attracted. 
But if market chaos ever existed in the industry, Sherman feels 
those days are passed. It is likely the abuses mentioned were never 
practiced by the outstanding dealers. Most of the problems about 
which honest differences of opinion might arise have been solved 
by government intervention. United States grades, accepted by 
all the trade, have been proposed and standardized. Inspectors 
have been trained who examine shipments at points of origin and 
receipt, and issue certificates of grade and condition. Such certifi- 
cates are accepted as prima facie evidence in courts. Government 
representatives stationed at leading markets send out quotations 
on which the trade may rely. The quotations are now published 
in leading papers and broadcast daily over the radio. Under such 
conditions the danger of purely local gluts is largely imaginary. 

85 Op. cit., p. 3. 

38 Stevens, op. cit., p. 53. 


With quotations from a whole region at hand a dealer can divert 
a car in transit from its designated market to a market en route. 
The one great danger that exists in the market remains over- 
expansion. The hope existing for this situation is that strict grad- 
ing in seasons of surplus will be used to curtail the supply, while 
in periods of scarcity much produce of lower quality will be per- 
mitted to pass. 37 












8 2 





14 4 


North Carolina 





South Carolina 


8 9 

6 5 

9 i 



4 5 


5 2 



29 7 

37 4 





4 5 

3 6 




4 6 








18 9 

17 2 

18 4 


Inland States 

2 2 

2 8 


2 7 


5 8 

6 5 

4 6 

5 6 




4 5 

5 4 






The South 





The Nation 

3341 1 

3343 1 

3331 9 

3369 7 


The outermost fringe of the Cotton Belt, furthest removed both 
in space and mode of life, is the coastal strip devoted to fishing. 

Good fishing grounds extend along the entire seaboard, but 
most of the catch is taken from deep holes and inlets near the better 
markets. Southern fish differ from those taken in North Atlantic 
waters largely because of the climate and the Gulf Stream. Cape 
Hatteras furnishes the southern limit for many northern fish and 
the northern limit for many southern fish. North Carolina, says 
J. H. Matthews, has the most remarkable coastal section of any 

87 Wells A. Sherman has written in Merchandizing Fruits and Vegetables the 
best exposition of this field. The indebtedness of this section both to his facts and 
interpretation is cheerfully admitted. 


state bordering on the Atlantic seaboard. 38 Its great sounds, Curri- 
tuck, Albemarle, Roanoke, Croatan, Pamlico, Core, Bogue, and 
others, constitute a series found in no other state. Albemarle, said to 
be the largest fresh water sound in the world, furnishes spawning 
ground for migratory fish. It possesses resources exceeding any 
other sound and practically all the neighboring male population 
participates in fishing. Instead o the great sand banks of North 
Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina possess the sea islands which 
ofTer less protection to fishing. Accordingly, of the some 16,298 
persons engaged in South Atlantic fishing in 1923, North Carolina 
furnished 9,308 together with almost half of the invested capital 
of eight million dollars. In that year the total catch amounted to 
228 million pounds worth five million dollars. Shrimp leads in 
value, followed in order by menhaden, shad, oysters, mullet, and 
Spanish mackerel. The period from 1918 to 1925 showed an in- 
crease of 8.3 per cent' in the number of persons engaged, a 14.6 per 
cent increase in investment, a 31.2 per cent decrease in quantity 
of catch with a 4.7 per cent increase in value. In 1928 some 11,882 
fishermen caught over 258 million fish worth over six million dollars. 
The decreases in production can be traced tq failures in the catch 
of menhaden. That vile fish, fit for only fertilizer, should not 
be named in the same breath with the many food fish of this coast. 
With a longer coast line, 6,875 m iles counting the principal in- 
dentations, the Gulf States comprise a much less important fishing 
sub-region. Florida stands out in importance in this area of low 
shores, sterile beaches, swamps and shallow bayous. Key West, 
settled in 1822, and still using a type of fishing equipment and 
methods of distribution practically identical with that fifty years 
ago, represents an all fishing community. In Florida the specialized 
sponge, clam, and shrimp industries are important. In 1925, at the 
sponge exchange of Tarpon Springs, Florida, 434,672 pounds of 
sponges were sold at a value of $715,097. It is estimated that an 
additional 50,000 pounds of sponges were sold outside the exchange. 
The largest bed of clams in the United States, 40 miles long and 
5 miles wide, is to be found off the Florida coast in the vicinity of 
the Ten Thousand Isles. The clams may be either dug from the 
mud by workers who shovel them into flat bottomed boats or 

88 "Fisheries of the South Atlantic and Gulf States," Economic Geography, IV, 


removed by dredges. These clam dredges are two-storied boats 
with a power driven chain belt running along the bottom. 

The social economy of the fishing fringe follows naturally from 
the conditions of its occupational routine. The catch is sold to 
dealers at prices fixed in advance of the season. "In dividing the 
profits as well as meeting the expenses all of the crew share alike. 
The captain receives no more than any one of the crew and his 
duties are equally laborious. The boat and seine which are gen- 
erally owned by the captain or some relative or friend count for one 
share. The seine is kept in good order by the crew and the owner 
pays for such expenses as repairing the boat and keeping it 
painted." 39 In mullet fishing on the southeast coast an observer 
sits on the beach in a kind of high chair until he observes a school 
of fish plying landward. By means of signals he then directs boats 
which put out, enclose the fish with nets, and draw them up on the 







Maryland and Virginia (1925) 






South Atlantic States (1927) 

Gulf States (1927) 

Mississippi River States (1922) 







Total for Nation: Various Years 
(Excluding Alaska) 




North Carolina 

South Carolina. 






Tennessee . ... 

Total The South 



The Nation 

88 Matthews, he. cit., p. 342. 


As a rule the fisherman is not familiar with nor does he follow 
other occupations. In the southeast the fishermen, Americans of 
old stock, make no attempt to follow farming as a sideline. They 
find the life of the fisher too arduous and full of toil for variation. 
Of! Florida and the Gulf, 90 per cent of the fishing is done in the 
winter. Many of these fishermen have inherited their vocation 
by direct descent through many generations and know no other 
calling. Surprisingly few of the Gulf fishermen are of native stock. 
From Apalachicola through Texas natives of Italy, Sicily, Greece, 
and Mexico who once fished for the markets of Palermo, Naples, 
Vera Cruz, or Tampico, man the industry. 40 

10 ibid. 



FROM GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN to the Father of Waters one travels 
from the heights of Dixie to the heart of Dixie. In the seven hun- 
dred and more miles from the southern highlands to the Mississippi 
(the southern traveler passes from zenith to nadir. It needs but 
a customs barrier and a varying language to mark the limit of two 
cultures. Here are two American provinces, the Delta and the 
Highlands, that contradict that blanket term, the Solid South. 
If we accept the frontier and the plantation as the foundation stones 
of the South, these two regions show forth the elements that went 
into its making. Here are its starting points and its trend of de- 
velopment. To their contrast in geographic foundations may be 
added a contrast in institutional framework. The Highlands, a 
lingering frontier, and the Delta, a plantation zone projected into 
the present, stand as social laboratories reminding us of the elements 
from which the South was fashioned. 

Abstract in presentation the concrete distinction between frontier 
and plantation comes to hand in an enlightening incident from 
social history. A scion of ante-bellum society, recently removed with 
his slaves from a Virginia plantation to a freshly settled section of 
the Mississippi Delta, was invited by his farmer neighbors to at- 
tend a log-rolling. Anxious to ingratiate himself with the pioneer 
community, he came with all his slaves and directed them at the 
task of housebuilding. One by one the yeomen drifted away 
from the task leaving the slaves to finish. Here are implicit many 
nice distinctions between two modes of society. 

Both areas are rural and southern, and both have been subjected 
to missionary influence of outside culture. Otherwise the con- 
trasts are startling. From an all staple cash economy to the self- 
contained domestic economy of the true frontier farm, from super- 
vised tenant labor in a pseudo-feudal organization to an area of 



freeholds of patriarchal families, from overwhelming ratios of 
Negroes to no Negroes at all, from population density to isolation, 
comprise some of the transitions from Delta to Highlands. River 
towns and mountain courthouses, rich soil and poor soil, Negro 
Dialect and Elizabethan English, level flood plains and rugged 
mountains, river transportation and horseback trails epitomize these 
differences. The Delta followed the sectionalism of Calhoun and 
Davis, the Highlands knew no politics more recent than Wash- 
ington and fought for the Union or not at all. From the same 
stock they came to follow diverse trails. If the flood menace of 
the Mississippi presents the South's greatest study in social inci- 
dence, the Highlands present its outstanding study in isolation. 


The significance of this mountainous zone, among the highest 
inhabited areas in the United States, is obscured by the fact that it 
is divided among eight different commonwealths. Were this area 
thrown into one it would doubtless constitute America's one unique 
commonwealth. According to Campbell the Southern Highlands 
in 1910 comprised a region of 112,000 square miles, one half in the 
Allegheny-Cumberland Belt, over a fourth in the Blue Ridge, and 
less than a fourth in the greater Appalachian Valley, credited in 
all with a population of 5,330, in. 1 In 1920 Estabrook estimated 
the three areas at 100,000 square miles in which lived six million 
people. 2 The steepness of the region is shown by the fact that 
in the Blue Ridge 60,500 acres are found over 5,000 feet high. 

From west to east these areas are called by geologists, the Plateau 
Belt, the Younger Folded, and the Older Folded regions. They 
possess contrasts of prime importance. Cumberland Plateau in the 
west, underlain with horizontal rocks of sandstone and shales, finds 
its surface rolling or rugged and covered with but a thin soil. 
In about forty per cent of this area are found workable deposits 
of coal; the remainder is better suited for agriculture. The plateaus 
of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee rank among 
the most thickly settled rural communities in the South. In the 
Younger Folded region the underlying layers of porous limestone 
rather than hard sandstone have dissolved, creating deep and fer- 

1 John C. Campbell, The Southern Highlander and His Homeland, pp. 10, 13. 
2 Arthur H. Estabrook, "Is There a Mountain Problem?" Mountain Life and 
Wor\, April, 1927. 


tile valleys which alternate with rocky and eroded ridges. "It is 
on the ridges," writes Dean Charles D. Lewis "that poverty, poor 
schools, and a population deprived of its intellectual leadership are 
found in the greatest abundance." 3 

The Older Folded region, more resistant to dissection, has thus 
remained higher. Sandstone, shales, and limestone here give way 
to gneiss, schist, slate, marble, and granite. The rock heart of the 
uplift is more exposed and thus furnishes a terrain often adapted 
only to forest cover. Mineral wealth offers a basis for the economic 
structure of the region and the rock is available for road construc- 
tion. To keep in mind the ever present contrast between ridge and 
valley will serve as an antidote against regarding the southern 
mountaineer as a uniform and stable type. 

The basins, gorges, and coves vary in size from many small 
"flats," gently rolling areas along small rivers, to such large basins 
as the site of Asheville. Small plains are found perched well up 
on the mountain slopes where the headwaters of branches unite. 
Elsewhere basins are formed where land waste has been washed 
into the hollows of mountain slopes. From the high coves to the 
river valleys these basins step down in a series of benches. The 
streams descending the mountains have cut out channels of steep 
valleys and deep gorges. The distribution of these basins, valleys, 
and gorges determines the location of population. Only one fourth 
of highland tracts can be said to be under cultivation, the popula- 
tion being as scattered as the flat lands they occupy. 4 

Here topography bears down in ruthless fashion upon human 
life and its round of activities. E. A. Ross sketches the geographical 
terrain bounding the horizon of social routine. "The mountains 
come down to a point like the letter V. Adown this crease brawls 
a petty river; leading into this from a smaller valley will be a 
creek; into the creek, a branch, and into the branch, a fork. Each 
settlement is a shoestring along one of these water courses and con- 
stitutes a world within itself, for it is insulated from its neighbors 
by one or two thousand feet of steep wooded ridge. The only 
wagon, trails lie in the bed of a stream which you may have to 
ford twenty times in a mile." 5 In one section, for example, Horace 

5 "The Changing Mountains," Mountain Life and Wor\, July, 1928, 15-19. 

4 Isaiah Bowman, Forest Physiography, pp. 610-11. 

5 E. A. Ross, "Pocketed Americans," New Republic, XXXVII, 170. 


Kephart found that a straight line journey of fourteen miles took 
the traveler up and down eight transverse ridges each around 2,000 
feet high. In another forty mile journey as the crow flies ten distinct 
mountain chains must be scaled and descended. 6 

It is a true saying that "cream sinks and the skim milk rises 
in the sociological milk pan of the mountains." Best of all are the 
valley farms, made rich by overflow and the decomposition of 
limestone, followed by the cove farms found in the hollows of the 
hills. Higher up are the ridge farms, poor, scarred and cobblestoned 
with rock. Where a people multiply and population pressure is strong 
upon the land, fertile farms are for a period divided among heirs. 
Finally a time comes when fields are too small to offer subsistence 
and young sons hoping to found families must push out. Ambitious 
sons have pushed out beyond the mountain rim; others have re- 
treated back up the slopes to) the shelter of a cabin and a cleared! 

Bold is he who in any account of regional patterns would attempt 
to describe and interpret the culture of the southern mountain. 
About no section of equal magnitude, it seems, has there raged 
such a storm of controversy over mere social description. Unlike 
the Negro, that other victim of the literary exploiter- of things 
southern, the mountaineer has struck back and struck back hard 
at criticism and misrepresentation. Neither he nor those closely ac- 
quainted with him have been content to hear the mountaineer called 
a peculiar people. Howard Mumford Jones' facetious presentation 
of the southern mountain tradition strikes a deserved note of satire: 

The simple southern highlanders converse among themselves in sentences 
impartially compounded of "hit," "you uns" and "tote," a vocabulary 
which they find sufficient for all ideas. The cultivation of four rows of 
corn supplies all their needs and their babies cry for moonshine as soon 
as they are born. By day their chief occupation is to sit; by night they 
sleep seven in a bed, though they will promptly vacate the bed on the 
approach of a furriner and migrate to the floor which they prefer. They 
never wear nothing but sun bonnets and blue jeans. None of them has 
even seen a train, and in the intervals of singing ballets they ejaculate 
from time to time, "Yeh ain't done right by our little Nell," and im- 
mediately shoot everybody in sight with a rifle which saw service at 
Kings Mountain. 7 

6 Horace Kephart, Our Southern Highlanders, pp. 20-21. 

7 H. M. Jones, "The Southern Legend," Scribners, May 1929, pp. 538-42. 


The over-emphasis on the unusual was natural and to be ex- 
pected. Much of the reporting on the mountains has been done 
by uncritical travelers and by mission schools engaged in raising 
funds for their enterprises. A mountain man once told Bishop 
John M. Moore: "You missionary people do not treat us right. 
You come with your cameras and photograph our worst houses 
and our lowest people and then throw them on the screens to be 
seen. You never tell of our good people nor of the substantial 
things of the community. But I reckon you have to do that in 
order to get money out of your members." 8 

Especially futile has been the controversy raging about the origin 
of biological stocks found in the Highlands. A homogeneity of 
physical type, striking to the anthropologists, with traits varying 
through blondness to huge rangy frames, has proved a paradox 
when subjected to social interpretation. The mountain stocks have 
been hailed on the one hand as the apotheosis of the Anglo-Saxon; 
on the other, as the decadence of poor whites. Admired by Henry 
Cabot Lodge and Theodore Roosevelt they have been shown to 
come from the loins of Scotch-Irish and the strictest of Presbyterians. 
Mr. John Fiske on the other hand comes dangerously near to as- 
signing as their ancestors indentured servants and "shiftless peo- 
ple who could not make a place for themselves in Virginia society 
including many of the 'mean whites.' " 9 In this he had to witness 
Virginia's Governor Spottswood who held, "It is fully well known 
what morals such people bring with them hither." Against 
the view that the mountains were peopled by a population pushed 
out from developed areas or left behind in the westward trek can 
be placed the more tenable view that pioneers sought fertile soil, 
range for cattle, spring water, and "coverts that might hide deer 
in sightly valley and comely plateaus of their own deliberate 
choice." 10 

So much Governor Spottswood did admit, if allowed his slur 
that "such people . . . settle themselves where land is to be taken 
up ... that will produce the necessarys of life with little labor." 
The plain truth is, of course, that the mountains then exercised no 

8 John M. Moore, The South Today, p. 132. 
8 Old Virginia and Her Neighbors, II, 311-21, 897. 

10 Marion Y. Rambo, "The Submerged Tenth Among the Southern Mountaineers," 
Methodist Review, July, 1905, p. 265. 


such selective influence on early settlers as an observer reads into 
the contemporary situation. If one were to become a frontier 
farmer the mountains were no more cut off from markets than 
any wilderness clearing. To expect the frontiersmen to foresee that 
surfaced highways, railways, steamboat navigation, power lines, and 
modern industrialism would develop and pass by his sons is to 
read history backward with a vengeance. No more was the original 
old man of the mountain a criminal fleeing from the justice of 
Virginia settlements. There is no mystery necessarily inherent in 
the settlement of Appalachia; its coves and creek valleys were ad- 
mirably fitted for the domestic economy of hunter and frontier 
farm. Yet "the retardation of the Appalachian Region is an out- 
standing fact in American life. When men of the type found 
have settled elsewhere this retardation has not been observed." 11 
A publication of its state geological survey said of the Kentucky 
mountains: "The stock is in all probability in a large part the same 
as that; of the Blue Grass but it has been modified by long isola- 
tion in an area of lesser opportunity." 12 This statement can well be 
applied to the whole area. 

The paradox of highland portraiture is to be explained as 
the result of attempting to force varied regions and differing so- 
cial classes into one rigid frame. Many people live here undei 
average rural conditions, many urban, and some isolated and 
backward. Urban, rurban, rural, and super-rural, according to 
Arthur, H. Estabrook "are terms that should be applied to condi- 
tions that range from those found in well-developed areas with 
good roads and schools such as the East Tennessee Valley to iso- 
lated cabins located in thq fastnesses of the hills." 15 

If Richmond and Norfolk be excluded, Estabrook found that 
proportionately as many people in the mountains of Virginia 
pay income taxes as throughout the state. Greenbrier County of 
West Virginia in the average value of farm lands and buildings 
exceeded state levels in 1925 by almost $3.00 per acre. A Kentucky 
county without railroad or improved highway, considered the most 
backward area in the mountains, has 60 graded schools, three high 

11 John P. McConncll, "Retardation of the Appalachian Region," Mountain Life 
and Wor\, April, 1922, pp. 21-22. 

13 D. H. Davis, Geography of the Kentucky Mountains, pp. 157-58. 

13 "Is There a Mountain Problem?" Mountain Life and WorJ{, April, 1927, p. 7. 


schools, two hospitals, and eight public health nurses. 14 In the 
Arkansas Ozarks many of the small cities, Springfield, Rogers, 
Fayetteville, and Siloam Springs, surpass the educational, social, 
and economic levels of the state. Three of these counties have a 
per acre value of farm land greater than that for the state of Arkan- 
sas as a whole. 15 

Isolation in an almost barren mileau can be, however, a very 
real thing. In mountain parlance the poverty stricken fall into 
three classes. There are the Lord's poor, destitute by misfortune; 
the devil's poor, stranded by their own follies; and poor devils from 
worthless stock who never were nor could be otherwise. We are 
fortunate in having the detailed analysis of the 83 families in an 
isolated border township in the southern Appalachians of I9io. 16 
"Life," as Isaiah Bowman has said, "is largely a struggle against 
distance whose vertical and horizontal elements loom increasingly 
large." Such distances loom large in terms of barriers to social and 
institutional contacts. 

For these families the average distance to a church and to school 
was 2*4 miles; to a store, 3 ! /8 miles; to a doctor, 4 miles; to a post 
office, 4% miles; to the county seat, 15% miles. Further interpreta- 
tion came from the portraiture of the average family. With <^ l / 2 
members the family cultivated 7% acres of its 27 acre farm. With 
1 54 windows to the house, two beds, and 4^2 sleepers to the room, 
44 families occupied log houses, 24, frame, and 15, box structures. 
Our average family made $161 from crops and spent $35.42 for 
clothes and $53.47 for food. Their flour for a year cost $18.30, 
coflee $8.66, sugar $6.90, and tobacco $12.56. For taxes they paid 
$2.46, while 56 men in the 83 families worked the road. Variations 
were found within these families. Forty-five raised their pork, 38 
bought it; 40 raised molasses, 16 purchased, 27 used none; 13 raised 
their tobacco all or in part; 68 families had cook stoves while 15 
cooked in the fireplace; 69 had meals regularly while 14 set no reg- 
ular meal time. Of the parents, one sixth were illegitimate, of the 
children eight per cent. Poor ventilation, unsanitary practice, in- 
sufficient clothing and monotonous diet were the chief conditions 

14 Ibid., pp. 7-8. 

13 A. H. Estabrook, "The Population of the Ozarks," Mountain Life and Wor{, 
April, 1929, p. 25. 

"Reported in Samuel H. Thompson, The Highlanders of the South, pp. 51-53. 


affecting health. But eight toilets were found and the most prev- 
alent diseases were tuberculosis, hookworm, and venereal disease. 
No picture can be regarded as typical, but if one keeps in mind 
class and locality this is not an overdrawn picture of poverty in 
mountain isolation. 


As late as 1900 President Frost of Berea held that two million 
native Americans lived in Southern Appalachia on the level of 
colonial conditions. As in the Cotton Belt one may select traits 
clustering around the cotton plant; here we may describe the passing 
culture that was conditioned by topography. It has been often 
recognized as unique. "Bring us your northern culture," said a 
mountain dweller to a visiting professor, "but leave us our civiliza- 
tion." A teacher of success and charm wrote: "We who know 
intimately the life of the southern mountains long to preserve the 
old standards of courtesy and behavior, the dignity and simplicity 
of the hills." 17 One likes to think of Silar McDonald of North 
Carolina, who died in 1879, as a native product of this culture. 
Sturdy, uneducated, poor, his only heritage, a Negro boy from his 
grandfather, was his constant companion until death in old age. 
He acquired a taste for letters and early attracted attention by his 
writings for the state papers. He contributed to Harper s, cor- 
responded with Maury, Henry of the Smithsonian Institute, and 
Longfellow, none of whom he ever met. In the United States Agri- 
cultural Reports for 1861 he proposed the theory of thermal belts 
in the mountains now established by climatologists. 

Domestic economy is the modus vivendi of isolation. One can 
cross continents to find no more vivid contrast than the mountains 
afford with the nearby cash crop system of cotton and tobacco not 
two hundred miles away. Samplings from North Carolina show 
interesting facts. The cash incomes were three to five times as 
high for farmers in Coastal Plains as in Mountain counties yet the 
average mountain farmer used $10.00 worth of credit to $436.00 
for the farmer in the Coastal Plains. The average highland 
farmer owned half as much property yet grew a much higher total 
of food supplies than his lowland colleague. Mountain landlords, 
for example, raised $627 worth of food and bought only $13 worth. 
The area ranked best in home produced meal and molasses and 

" Ethel De Long in The Survey, XXXVII, 627. 


was the only section to produce consistently more than a quart of 
milk per day per individual. For every $100 of cash income the 
average Ashe County farmer paid $65.50 in taxes. Expenses of 
the average Johnson County farmer were $261 of which $67 for 
taxes were the highest item. 18 Difficulty in meeting tax demands 
in cash is characteristic of domestic economy. 

"It's a great life for dogs and men but it's hard on women and 
steers." In such a phrase DuBose Heyward let a character sum up 
the position of mountain women. Your true man mountaineer was 
a patriarch. The pattern of the field work of women is no deeper 
laid in the tenancy of cotton belts than in the corn fields and 
cow pens of the hillside. When there is a "passel" of men to be 
fed women wait to the last table as a matter of course. The boy 
child is the young autocrat; he lords it over his older sisters and 
too soon ignores the women folks of the family. Woman's task 
is made more onerous by repeated childbearing. To match moun- 
tain birth rates, says Ross, one must go to the Balkans and French 
Canada. Miss Harriette Wood who spent six years as a worker in 
a settlement school in the shut-ofT mountain region of Kentucky 
well portrays the place of women in this culture. 

The status of women in this mountain culture has been much misunder- 
stood and severely criticised because much of the outdoor work is done 
by them. A fact that is usually overlooked is that this is a corollary to 
primitive conditions everywhere. In pioneer periods the father and sons 
cut and hewed logs for buildings, split fence rails and shingles, secured 
wild game for the table and cleared and broke the new ground. Lighter 
tasks such as planting, hoeing, carrying water and milking could be, and 
very properly were, done by the mother and daughters if they contributed 
their share to the making of the home and were an asset rather than a 
burden. That women often did these tasks, and still do them, both for 
love of their husbands and families and also because in many cases they 
enjoy the outdoor work more than the household tasks is seldom con- 
sidered by the critics. 

It is true, however, that in the large the custom is an example of cultural 
lag. And that there is an undesirable by-product in a general attitude 
on the part of men to permit women to do this kind of work unneces- 

w "Farm Income and Taxation" in North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Sta- 
tion, Bulletin 267, North Carolina State College, 1929, pp. 58-60. Economic and 
Social Conditions of North Carolina Farmers, North Carolina Tenancy Commission, 
1922, pp. 31, 18. 


sarily while they themselves engage in pursuits more to their liking and 
less essential. . . . This attitude is largely offset by a very real and funda- 
mental respect for womanhood on the part of the mountain man. It is 
well known that it is absolutely safe for even young and attractive 
women to travel either on foot or on horseback in sections in which there 
are none but the native men. Crimes of violence against women are 
very rare, indeed, but occasionally a woman is shot by her lover or hus- 
band in a fit of jealousy. The mountain man's code as expressed by a 
native is: "No man in the mountains says an insulting thing at a woman 
unless she first throws the banter." 

In general it may be said that the average woman submits unquestion- 
ingly to her lot of hard work, excessive childbearing, and the rule of her 
husband. It is something of a paradox, however, that when she becomes 
an old woman with a large family of grown-up children she comes into 
her own and assumes somewhat the character of a matriarch. She is often 
consulted, looked up to, loved, and respected. 19 

While the new moonshining is a capitalistic venture undertaken 
at the behest of lowland consumers, the old moonshining was more 
characteristic of the locale and deserves attention as an indigenous 
trait of mountain culture. Those to whom the drinking habit 
seems utterly at variance with the religious fundamentalism of the 
highlanders should realize that here were the mores of colonial 
America. The deadly dull monotony of the mountain menu leaves 
intoxicants the only invigorating article of diet. Mountain topog- 
raphy has completed the task of making permanent the imprint 
of this pattern) on culture. Corn is the chief economic plant; dis- 
tilling has long been a household technology; transportation is a 
baffling problem. Thus, instead of conveying corn on crude wag- 
ons over rocky gulches, its essence has long been conveyed by jug 
on horseback to bring many times the price of corn or forage. 

In religion the hill dweller is a fundamentalist. It never pained 
an orthodox New Englander to contribute to the cause of missions 
in the southern highlands, for here, he recognized, were transplanted 
Puritans Scotch Presbyterians of the South who had espoused the 
union cause. Just as isolation prevented the changes in southern 
sentiment from reaching their ears before the Civil War, so has 
it shut them out from revisions in the old-time religion. Here ig- 

"Harriette Wood, "The Kentucky Mountains," unpublished M.A. thesis, Uni- 
versity of North Carolina, 1930, pp. 54"55> 5^. 


norance preening on biblical texts is not humble as among the 
Scotch but self-confident and dogmatic. So Professor Ross felt on 
his journey through the highlands. 

The once famous feuds, often cited as the hallmark of the high- 
lands, were traits neither of mountain depravity nor clan align- 
ments and animosities transferred from Scotland. Waiving the 
plausible contention that upland feuds were never more gruesome 
or numerous than black belt mob outbreaks, their old feud pattern 
is a beautiful example of culture as adaptation. From geography 
and history it was imposed. Stimuli to homicide were many where 
lands were settled by the squatter process and titles were so obscure 
that litigation often ended in what the community regarded as un- 
fair dispossession of worthy old settlers. In no culture is the dog 
more prominent; and poisoned dogs, stolen dogs, sheep killing dogs 
offered a starting point for many a falling out. Moonshining, a pre- 
carious undertaking, lends itself to spite informing. Such incidents 
as in other areas would lead to lawsuits used here to occasion feuds. 
A certain feudal and fatalistic attitude, sometimes closely involved 
with a philosophy of personal honor, characterized their southern at- 
titude toward homicide. Most important, the mountaineer lived 
in a milieu where litigation could not be trusted. Intermarriage 
within the confines of their coves left the population connected in 
a net of kinship groupings. Aggression, insults, and injuries found, 
because of kinship ties, the community divided into two hostile 
camps with no neutral buffer group. All who came to act as legal 
umpire, judge and jury, were regarded as assuming the mask of 
impartiality in order to protect a kinsman or wreak vengeance on 
an enemy. There remained the resort to feud, and judges, thought 
to be partisans, were sometimes shot down on the bench. The 
interesting social evolution from feud to legal process is concomitant 
with the breaking down of closed barriers of geography and close 
kinship. With the widening of the physical horizon has come 
the third group, neutral, unrelated, and thus able to satisfy two 
conflicting groups. 20 It may be mentioned in passing that advanced 
society finds itself in the same plight in litigation between capital 
and labor. Having developed no large neutral group, society 

20 Compare Ellsworth Paris' theory of punishment in "The Origin of Punish- 
ment," International Journal of Ethics, XXV, 54-67. 


finds that labor trials have tended to cast aspersions on the impar- 
tiality of judges and the jury system. 


Conditions have been no more static in the mountains than else- 
where. That we have here a picture of social organization arrested 
at a certain level is less true today than it ever was. The modern 
world is advancing at an ever increasing pace upon the highlands 
and bringing with it new adjustments. The remaking of agri- 
culture, the extension of the network of railroads and hard surfaced 
highways, the new integration of education, and industrialism with 
its labor exploitation of large families are factors making a new 
highland society. The development of coal mining in Kentucky 
marked the passing in 1912 of the largest mountain area in the 
United States untouched by railroads. The Ford enterprises now 
own 125,000 acres of coal lands in Kentucky, possibly the largest 
single land holdings in the South. The spread of highways lost 
this region the reputation of possessing the largest horseback area 
in America. When Professor Ross attended a mountain church 
ten miles from town he heard, it is true, an unchanged gospel, but 
he found twenty-one Fords and only one saddled horse. 21 

The effects of highland industrialization on the region can be 
marked down in neither black nor white. The unfavorable effects, 
however, cannot be denied. The net profits of mining do not re- 
main in the mountains; they go to outside capitalists. One of 
America's simplest ways of getting rich, says }. Russell Smith, has 
been to find distant, inaccessible coal lands, buy them from the 
scanty population for a few dollars an acre and build a railroad to 
the spot. Such development not only brings no wealth to- native 
inhabitants but it increases tenancy. The original owners may 
now become renters and laborers on their old homesteads, now 
worth $50 an acre. Nor is the native labor supply immediately in- 
dustrialized in order to receive the advantage of steady employ- 
ment. Perry County, Kentucky, possessing, in 1910, 8,000 popula- 
tion underwent in 1912 a development in railways and bituminous 
coal sufficient to raise its population to 40,000. Of the present pop- 
ulation 20 per cent moved in from neighboring counties while 35 
per cent moved in from outside the mountains. Nor does the proc- 

21 "Pocketed Americans," New Republic, XXXVII, 171. 


ess necessarily bring the region permanent communities and a con- 
structive citizenry. 

The absentee and invisible corporation sends its men into the green and 
peaceful wilderness where they build little houses for two or three hun- 
dred workers; put up a power house to pump and ventilate the mine 
and run the electric cars; erect a barn for the mine mules, and get every- 
thing ready for the arrival of superintendents and mine bosses, the time 
keepers and foremen. 

The typical mining community, therefore usually consists of a few super- 
intendents who have some education and several hundred employees 
who are able to dig coal. In many cases these miners know little of the 
English language and practically nothing at all of American customs and 

Towns in the Cumberland Plateau are, however, often filled with moun- 
taineers who have come from the isolation of their mountain farms to 
experience the crowded conditions of a mining town where the valley is 
so narrow that the houses must be perched up on the side of the hill like 
bleacher seats around an athletic field. It is not difficult to see why the 
individualistic, independent feudist mountaineer with the point of view 
of the mountaineer cannot become at once a public-spirited townsman. 
When a community changes from a land of cabins to a mining town the 
change is sudden and violent. 22 

The greatest suffering in this upheaval will be found among 
those who, cast out from the community of self-sufficing households, 
have not yet found a permanent place in a super-imposed indus- 

Population once frozen has become fluid. Hundreds of the poorer type 
of mountain people will be found in the worst sections of industrial 
towns in these and neighboring states. The lowest of types of mountain 
population are also found skirting many mining camps, living in houses 
much inferior to those provided by the companies and enjoying none of 
the advantages of the workers. 23 

Mary VerhoefT, wrongly or not, in 1911 regarded the highlander 
as unfitted by his culture for participation in industry. 

To work when the larder is empty and to rest when it is full has always 
been his economic ideal. Accustomed to work in his own way he is 

22 J. Russell Smith, North America, pp. 226-27. 

23 Charles D. Lewis, loc. cit., p. 19. 


quick to resent dictation or interference and with little sense of the value 
of time or the moral obligation of a contact, will forsake his task regard- 
less of consequence to employer and industry. Without disposition to 
cooperate he is at once the menace and despair of the labor union. 24 

Equally impressive are the favorable trends industrialization has 
given the region. It first must be recalled that when once attracted 
by mineral deposits railroads have occasioned the development of 
hitherto unsuspected resources. Then many stable and intelligent 
native owners do retain possession of their properties and receive 
royalties from mining enterprises. Mining towns offer markets 
for produce and encourage an agriculture of orchards and gar- 
dens to which the region is more adapted than the production of 
staple crops. Miners, moreover, spend for the benefit of the local 
merchants, thus building up a stable commercial class. The perma- 
nent improvements of industry furnish a basis of taxation, pro- 
viding for schools, roads, and public services hitherto unattainable 
by local groups. 25 


Future development in the highlands is bound up with the 
emergence of urban centers. Urban growth in the mountains, 
holds D. H. Davis, will probably be characterized by the develop- 
ment of a relatively large number of centers of relatively small size 
rather than by the growth of a few major cities of large popula- 
tion. This is largely because topography divides the area in small 
hinterlands. Cities on the highlands' margins, however, have more 
favorable conditions for extensive growth. 

Mountain cities are likely to be located in creek bottoms where 
the lines of drainage furnished the early facilities for communica- 
tion. Here are found level plots for town development, and the 
focus of principal valleys offers an important hinterland. On level 
ridge tops where the surface has not been dissected railroad lines 
ofTer the relative advantage necessary to locate towns. Short dis- 
tances set by topography have helped to multiply the cross roads 
and country store development beyond that usually found in dis- 
tricts of similar density. 26 

The county seat is centrally located and occupies an important 

The Kentucky Mountains, Transportation and Commerce, 1750-1911, pp. 34'35- 

25 See Carl O. Sauer, Geography of the Ozar\ Highlands, p. 209. 

26 See D. H. Davis, Geography of the Mountains of Eastern Kentucky, pp. 138-42. 


place in the life of highland people. Court day was once a holiday 
in Kentucky and Virginia when the "settlers met upon the court- 
house green to trade and discuss public affairs." With the in- 
creasing complexity of society court week now retains its pristine 
importance only in rural and mountain counties. Highlanders 
are great experts in litigation and follow the legal intricacies of 
favorite attorneys with the zest they pay their favorite preachers of 
doctrinal sermons. Some, but not the majority, of the county 
seats follow a plan which has come to be accepted as a trait of: 
the culture south of the Ohio. This pattern places the courthouse 
square in the center and builds the town around it. The automobile 
tourist is likely to find himself routed around the square that 
he may view the edifice. 

In rugged coal and iron areas the industrial towns are often 
linear by force of topography. Breaking through the mountain 
barrier the river winds on the lowest level. On a second plane the 
railway follows its course; on a third runs the highway. Above in 
the sides of sloping hills are the coal mines whose tipples often 
overhang the roadway. An industrial stringtown stretches down 
the highway which its dwellers use for a footpath. The traveler 
by auto rushes past two rows of houses dangerously near; on one 
side the house stands on stilts; on the other they are set back into 
the hills. Thus has the cultural landscape developed guided by the 
demands of topography. 

Industry, education, and communication are the driving forces 
for change in the mountains. One hundred forty-nine mountain 
schools are maintained in eight southern states by denominational 
and independent agencies. Through the girls many of them at- 
tempt to teach a science and an art of homemaking. Through the 
boys they teach an agriculture that will reach back into mountain 
coves and homesteads. In Georgia the Berry Schools have achieved 
national recognition. At Brasstown, North Carolina, Mrs. John C. 
Campbell has founded an institution patterned after the Danish 
folk schools. At Pine Mountain, Kentucky, the school has suc- 
ceeded in merging itself with the life of the community. At Rae- 
burn, in North Georgia, a school has worked out a family plan of 
training. The institution moves the family to the school farm and 
educates their children while the adults are operating the farm 
under direction. The knowledge of agriculture thus gained is 


afterwards put into practice on the home farm. In startling con- 
trast the Kingston School at Iberia, Missouri, in the Ozarks has 
stuck strictly to the classics, teaching four years of Latin and two 
of Greek. Seventy-five per cent of its pupils go to college but few 
of these, it is safe to say, have returned to aid in reconstructing 
the region. 

The equalization of state educational funds is proving the most 
important factor in the development of mountain public schools. 
In 1928 Tennessee spent $800,000 to equalize educational oppor- 
tunities in poor counties; North Carolina, in the same year, spent 
$200,000 more for this purpose than was spent for all elementary 
education twenty years before. In ten plateau counties of Kentucky 
this program has meant in twenty years a 476 per cent increase in 
the value of school plants, 296 per cent increase in the cost of main- 
taining schools, 60 per cent increase in attendance, and a 100 per cent 
increase in teachers' salaries. Log school houses decreased from 184 
to none. The ten poorest counties of the Tennessee mountains 
showed during the same period increases of 296 per cent in teach- 
ers' ^salaries, 333 per cent increase in high school enrollment, and 
100 per cent increase in average length of school term. 27 

Only twenty years ago there could be found few permanently 
passable roads in the mountainous ends of the southern states. To- 
day "roads to fulfillment" in Miss Harriet Berry's phrase have 
made possible schools, public welfare officials, school attendance 
laws, mothers' aid, and, county and home demonstration agents. 28 
Dean Charles D. Lewis has written of North Carolina: 

Today every mountain county seat is reached, in most cases from two 
or more directions, by hard surface, state-maintained highways. In Vir- 
ginia only two or three counties are not so served; and while Kentucky 
is lagging behind somewhat, great improvement has been made in road 
construction. In 1928 the ten poorest counties of Virginia had an aggre- 
gate of 310 miles of improved highway built and maintained by state 
and federal aid, Tennessee's ten poorest counties have 225 miles of such 
road, while North Carolina first to start its road-building program has 
constructed 500 miles in its ten poorest mountain counties. This total 
mileage of 1,035 represents a cost of at least twenty-five million dollars. 
This investment Is bringing good interest by providing marketing facili- 

27 See C. D. Lewis, op. cit., p. 15. 

28 Sec Mountain Life and Wor{, January, 1928, pp. 2-8. 


ties for farm and forest products by affording work during construction 
and in maintenance, and more than all, in attracting tourists into this 
beautiful region for summer vacations and week-end trips. 29 

The development at Biltmore, the Vanderbilt estate near Ashe- 
ville, first introduced modern dairying and trucking, along with 
spinach and celery culture to the mountains, and thus foreshadowed 
changes in highland agriculture. On the whole progress on the 
farm had lagged behind other changes. The opening of new con- 
tacts by means of roads, the rural mail delivery, parcel post, and 
the telephone have increased wants beyond the range of simple 
family agriculture that formerly produced 75 to 90 per cent of the 
living. Yet the farmer has no great cash crops like his brother of 
the plains. 

Money must be obtained to buy the refinements and luxuries of life of 
the outside world. To secure these, cattle, sheep, and hogs were driven 
to market, timber was cut and rafted down the streams, men and boys 
went to the incoming railways, the opening mines, the sawmills that 
came further and further up the rivers, for work that would bring in 
cash to meet the growing family needs. This brought about a neglect of 
the old type of farming and the deterioration of the farm. Markets were 
developing nearby, but the demands were for products widely different 
from the crops the farms had been producing. Vegetables, small fruits, 
poultry and milk had been produced, but chiefly by the women; they 
were not men's crops. So passed the old order in many sections without 
the coming of the new. ... It is only the story of rural life everywhere, 
but much exaggerated by the poorer land, worse roads and less efficient 
schools. These conditions were worse in the Plateau belt than else- 
where, for in the Folded region there were alternating belts of better soil 
than kept a fair degree of prosperity among the farming peoples. 30 

Older farmers spend spare time on public works as lumbering, 
roadmaking, and all outside activities are called. Boys saw no 
chance on the farm and many left it. Only one half of Berea's 
students return to their communities and that half is found largely 
among those who do not graduate. At the same time the presence 
of mining towns, lumber camps, vacation resorts, and hotels have 
led certain sections to advance in poultry production, dairying, and 
the growth of fruits and vegetables. 

29 Op. at. p. 17. 

30 Charles D. Lewis, ibid., p. 18. 


Among the most encouraging trends, the creation o a native 
cheese industry furnishes a case study. The cheese industry has 
long proved a resource to the plateaus of Switzerland and the moun- 
tain districts of France and Italy. The making of cheese had been 
a home industry in some mountain areas a generation or more ago. 
The climate was fitted to the processes, and the product possessed 
the qualities essential for preservation and transportation. Labor, 
plentiful and cheap, was utilized because of lack of paying indus- 
tries. Every family possessed a few cows and almost every house 
was built near a spring already used for keeping milk cool. Pov- 
erty offered an obstacle in the fact that no community was able 
to employ a trained high-priced cheesemaker. This problem was 
met by the proposal that each cooperative company hire and train 
a bright young man from the community in the art of making 
cheese. The industry would thus bq established as a purely local 
enterprise and the wages paid cheesemakers would not be pro- 

The first cooperative cheese factory was organized by dairy 
extension specialists at Cove Creek, Watauga County, North Caro- 
lina, in the spring of 1915. The building was small, 14 by 16 feet, 
and its cost complete was only $400. Another was opened at Grassy 
Creek, North Carolina, six months later at a cost of $375. The 
reluctance of skeptical farmers was overcome by demonstrations 
which proved the cheese to be equal to the "store-bought" product. 
The first year after completion each factory returned almost $1,500 
to its patrons. The year before the total sales from butter had av- 
eraged less than $300. Two other factories were erected before 
the end of the year and the demands on the demonstration agents 
became greater than they could meet. Larger factories have been 
built costing $1,000 each, subscribed jointly by 30 to 40 local stock- 
holders. In 1917, two years after the campaign was under way, 
more than $125,000 worth of cheese was made in 34 factories in 
the mountain districts of North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and 
West Virginia. The cost of milk and operation of the- cheese fac- 
tory amounted to about one fourth, leaving about $90,000 as newly 
created wealth. Such a successful home industry has reacted with 
beneficial effects on the community. In its pastoral industry, for 
instance, better care, more skillful feeding, more regular milking 
routines, and occasionally purchase of better stock have resulted. 


Great pride is taken in efficient operation of factories; waste is 
guarded against, and by-products such as whey are carefully used 
in the feeding of hogs. A sign tacked over the whey barrels at one 
factory shows the earnestness with which efficiency is motivated: 
"Don't spill the whey. Spilled whey creates filth, filth breeds 
germs, germs cause disease, disease sometimes results in death, and 
death will lead to eternal hell for the man who takes more whey 
than belongs to him." The higher standard of living has resulted 
in better community standards. Farm houses are improved and 
remodelled, roads improved, school houses built, school terms 
lengthened and better teachers employed. 31 

Industrial reconstruction can be set of! against reconstruction in 
agriculture. On the Holston River a great printing company, 
knitting mills, cement works, and a branch of the Eastman Kodak 
Company have transformed a rural mountain village. Kingsport, 
Tennessee, offers an interesting case study in mountain industrializa- 
tion so interesting in fact as to have had a book written about 
itself. 32 It is a city deliberately planned and engineered by eastern 
bankers and industrialists. Thirteen years old in 1928 it had 15 indus- 
trial plants employing 5,000 workers and a total population of 18,000. 
Its city planning was done by Dr. John Nolen of Cambridge, Massa- 
chusetts. A level meadow was laid off for plants, an area of 
higher altitude for residences, and a level tract between reserved 
for the business section. All three sections are convenient yet 
distinct. To guide its development along lines of natural beauty 
the town engaged a municipal landscape artist. Moreover, its 
charter embodying the city manager plan was submitted to the 
Bureau of Municipal Research which eliminated some details and 
added others. The community represents a studied grouping of 
industries of 15 plants, independent as to ownership, manage- 
ment, and marketing, yet clustered around the resources of the 
highlands. The Kodak concern uses every scrap of a tree from 
sawdust to distilled liquors from wood. Spent chestnut chips from 
a tannery^ are sold to a paper mill and converted into pulp. The 
whole process from wood chips to the bound book has been known 
to take only 96 hours in Kingsport. In a surprisingly brief period 

31 C. F. Doanc and A. J. Reed, "Cheesemaking Brings Prosperity to Farmers of 
Southern Mountains," U. S. D. A. Yearboo{, 1917, Separate 737. 
82 Howard Long, Kingsport. 


of time Tennessee mountaineers have developed into skilled la- 
borers. Nor have eastern industrialists had occasion to regret 
their selection of location. Kingsport has invited industry and for 
the decade before 1930 had acquired over a plant a year. These two 
instances in diverse fields epitomize the process of change in the 
highlands and offer contrast to earlier levels of isolation. 


The Ozark-Ouachita Highlands furnish a replica of the Appa- 
lachians. If they deserve separate treatment, it is because they 
are smaller, less rugged, and younger in settlement. 

The highlands of the mid-continent comprise 91 counties which 
have been settled by a rural, native white, Protestant population 
for over 115 years. Its outer hills furnished the site of the first 
permanent white settlement east of the Mississippi. It area of 
63,470 square miles over half the area Campbell assigned to Ap- 
palachia had in 1920 a population of 1,742,393, distributed in the 
three states of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. No less than 
the Appalachians, the culture of the Ozarks is a derivative of the 
frontier. 33 

As a matter of fact the area received the greater part of its pop- 
ulation from the southern highlands, 1820-1840 being the period of 
greatest migration. Arthur H. Estabrook traces the course of a typi- 
cal migrant who, born in 1801 in the mountains of Virginia, mar- 
ried a wife born in 1805 in Tennessee, had children born in Ken- 
tucky in 1825, 1827, 1829, 1832, 1834, l ^- His last child was born 
in Newton County, Arkansas, in i838. 34 Unlike the Appalachias 
there has been a continuous but fluctuating immigration to the 
Ozarks since the first settlement. Like Appalachia, however, min- 
ing has fostered a continuous movement of population to areas of 

Industrial development in the southern Ozarks will not parallel 
that of Appalachia. The northern Ozarks, however, produce 60 
per cent of Missouri's mining output, lead and zinc being found 
there exclusively. The area is relatively lacking in coal and iron and 
remains undeveloped in water power. Hay-pasture-dairy farm- 

33 Vance Randolph, The Ozar{s; Carl O. Sauer, Geography of the Ozar\ High- 

34 "The Population of the Ozarks," Mountain Life and Wor\, April, 1929, pp. 2-3, 


ing must be substituted for the poorly adapted grain farming of 
the Ozark. That the region is not perpetually doomed to poverty 
and sparse settlement is shown by progress in power, forestry, 
growth of resorts, as well as of a new type of agriculture. 

Within the last year these hills have become the fifth ranking 
grape region of America, shipping large quantities of grape 
juice, jelly, preserves, and 14,000 tons of fresh grapes yearly. They 
are now the center of a tomato canning industry producing $2,500,- 
ooo annual returns. Twenty of these counties produce every seventh 
quart of strawberries eaten in the United States, returning $600,000 
to their highland growers. The dairy industry has reached a begin- 
ning in the hills producing 30,000,000 pounds of butter and 200,000 
pounds of cheese in a recent year. In 1929, 865 carloads of cream 
were shipped to the Atlantic seaboard. Poultry products brought 
i$55,ooo,ooo into the Ozarks in 1928, eggs accounting for $22,000,000. 
The recency of the awakening in the hills can be shown by a 
reference to peaches. In 1928 from 5,000,000 trees the Ozark and 
Ouachita highlands shipped 4,000 cars of peaches. In 1920, eight 
years before, Arkansas shipped only 57 cars to outside markets. 
Highland, Pike County, Arkansas, is exceeded as a peach shipping 
center by only three carloading points in the United States. 



FROM CAIRO at the Ohio's mouth to the Gulf, the Mississippi River 
flows through a flood plain a flood plain which it must have cre- 
ated by filling an ancient inland sea. To the bird's-eye observer this 
Delta, so-called, appears as a forest covered plain with the bank of 
the water courses as the highest point in the landscape. This is 
so true that each river has been said to have its bed in the axis 
of a ridge that accompanies it throughout. Through the course of 
ages the Mississippi must have flooded thousands of square miles 
in hundreds of overflows. J. Russell Smith explains: "As the water 
swings out of the main t channel into the still backwaters its speed 
is checked. It drops part of its load of silt and mud. This makes 
the river bank higher than the back swamp." 1 Crooked and full 
of turns, this great river which is always building banks is also en- 
gaged in the work of cutting its banks away. The outer banks 
of this great carrier are always being under-cut and this process 
with the resulting cave-ins leads the river to discover lower courses 
and new channels in the back swamps and bayous. 

By air line the distance from St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico 
is 800 miles; by the tortuous route of the Mississippi it is 1,270 
miles. Possessing a fall of only four inches, to the mile this great 
sluggish stream spreads its width abroad, meanders, turns and re- 
turns, undercutting its banks and overflowing. Thus A. B. Hul- 
bert points out that the Mississippi never remains the same: 

It is said to bring down annually four hundred million tons of mud, but 
its eccentricity in deciding where to wash away and where to deposit its 
load is still the despair of river pilots. The great river could destroy 
islands and build new ones overnight with the nonchalance of a child 
playing with clay. It could shorten itself thirty miles at a single lunge. 
It could move inland towns to its banks and leave river towns far inland. 

1 "Plan or Perish," Survey, LVIII, 370. 



It transferred the river town of Delta from three miles below Vicksburg 
to two miles above it. Men have gone to sleep in one state and have 
wakened unharmed in another because the river decided in the night to 
alter the boundary line. In this way the village of Hard Times, the 
original site of which was in Louisiana found itself eventually in Missis- 
sippi. Were La Salle to descend the river today by the route he traversed 
two and a half centuries ago, he would follow dry land most of the way, 
for the river now lies practically everywhere either to the right or left of 
its old course. 2 


New Orleans, metropolis of this area, exemplifies the problems 
peculiar to the city in the Delta environment. 3 It arose a hundred 
miles up stream on the Mississippi at the point where goods were 
transferred from small river boats to ocean-going vessels. When 
railroads came to take the place of river craft, the operations begun 
in 1875 to make the channel accessible to modern ocean steamers 
were attended with success. Thus the city maintained its standing 
as an ocean port though a hundred miles from the Gulf. 

New Orleans was built on the natural raised banks of the river 
and its growth, like that of all Delta cities, caused expansion into 
the swamp area back of the river. Many parts of the city thus came 
to lie below the river at high stage, and artificial levees had to be 
built atop the natural banks. These protective areas are now occu- 
pied by wharves, warehouses, and tracks. To complete communica- 
tion with New Orleans is so difficult that the railroads are com- 
pelled to use ferries across the river. Shifting foundations of river 
mud and sand, with a river whose depths vary from 40 to 200 feet 
and whose width ranges from 1,500 to 3,000 feet, afford baffling 
obstacles to bridge construction. Until the recent completion of 
the bridge at Vicksburg, Memphis possessed the only crossing be- 
tween St. Louis and the Gulf. Moreover, in an area overlaid with 
delta mud and sand, modern metropolitan architecture has proved 
almost as impossible as bridge construction. Building stone is 
lacking and must, therefore, be transported down stream. In addi- 
tion, it is almost impossible to reach the bedrock foundation neces- 
sary to support great buildings. Consequently New Orleans did 
not possess a modern skyscraper until 1920. Its pavement program 

2 A. B. Hulbcrt, Paths of Inland Commerce, p. 177. 

s Adapted from W. D. Jones and D. S. Whittlesey, Economic Geography, I, 215-17. 


is also a recent development. Before 1890 the city possessed only 
a few stretches of pavement, made of cobble stone brought in as 
ship ballast. 

Furthermore, its Delta location has given New Orleans unique 
problems in relation to water supply, drainage, and sewage dis- 
posal. The soil cannot absorb the run off since water level is so 
high as to prevent underground burial. The city's natural slope 
would, if allowed, convert the area back of the river into a stagnant 
lake. There are no clear springs and any well dug soon fills with 
contaminated seepage. The Mississippi itself bears sediment and 
bacteria from a hundred river towns. New Orleans was accord- 
ingly forced for a long period of its history to save for drinking 
water the run-off from roofs in cisterns, open and above ground. 
From these sources came repeated visitations from malaria and 
yellow fever until finally the cisterns were closed by law. Early 
in the twentieth century arrangements were made to take city water 
from the Mississippi. In a great settling basin located above the city 
water is now purified by chemical and mechanical means. Until 
1900 New Orleans possessed open gutters for sewage and a few 
sluggish canals which drained into Lake Ponchartrain, which is 
lower than the city. The canals were covered, other covered drains 
installed, and eight pumping plants force the drain water into the 
Lake and two bayous. Another drainage and pumping system lifts 
the sewage into the river. These are the conquests in municipal 
engineering man has been forced to make of nature in order to 
prosper in the Delta environment. 

The mountains owe their distinctive quality of life to the con- 
flict with space, especially in its vertical aspect. The Delta is as 
much a region ruled by water. Its level contours, its fertile soils, 
its former commerce, its present agriculture, and its perennial threat 
of disaster all hail from the waters. Every Delta dweller must be 
prepared to embark as did Noah while it rains forty days and forty 
nights. Running through the center of the mighty trough which 
cuts through the middle of North America from the Arctic Ocean 
to the Gulf of Mexico, the river has created in its southern reaches 
a distinctive region, an area of commerce and an area of agriculture. 


The Mississippi system bade fair in its heyday to make the 
Delta the artery of commerce of the nation. "Kick a barrel of flour 


at Minneapolis," once said James }. Hill, "and it will roll to the 
Gulf." Certainly nature had done everything possible to open the 
Kentucky-Tennessee area and the expanding old Northwest toward 
the South. As Miss Semple points out, the convergence of the Ohio, 
Tennessee, and Cumberland rivers guided the incoming hordes of 
settlers toward the great central stream. Many and varied were the 
types of flatboats which the difficulty of overland traffic directed 
down its currents. The boatsmen floated their produce-laden crafts 
down to early New Orleans, there broke up their barges to sell both 
goods and timbers, and returned overland with the proceeds. 
Keel boats, however, were often pulled back up stream. Afoot or 
on horseback, the traders usually preferred to return overland rather 
than to face the river current. Voyage on the river of a thousand 
miles and overland of five hundred were commonplace in those 
hardy days. 4 

The innovation of the steamboat changed the Mississippi from 
a one-way artery of traffic and ushered into the Delta the continent s 
most flourishing era of internal commerce before the railroads. In 
1807 Livingston and Fulton built a shipyard at Pittsburgh and 
launched the first steamer on the Ohio, the New Orleans.. In 
the following winter it descended to New Orleans, but it was not 
until 1815 that a steamboat was able to ascend the river from New 
Orleans to Louisville, the trip requiring twenty-five days. By 1825 
some 125 steam craft were plying the Ohio-Mississippi and their 
number increased by 1860 to over a thousand. The flush times of 
valley expansion had set in before 1837; by 1860 Mississippi, Ala- 
bama, and Louisiana raised over half the cotton crop. Rates of 
freight transportation were sliced in half, and the time from New 
Orleans to Pittsburgh decreased from 100 to 30 days. The old flat- 
boats began slowly to disappear from the river, being replaced by 
stern wheelers and side wheelers of shallow draft which carried the 
farmers' produce to market at what was then regarded as a dizzy 
rate of speed. Memphis, Mobile, Vicksburg, and New Orleans 
rose to stations of commercial importance, while Charleston and 
Savannah languished. In the decade from 1850 to 1860 New 
Orleans handled almost half the cotton crop of the country. 

Moreover, the old Northwest became the hinterland for the 

4 Ellen C. Semple, American History and Its Geographic Conditions, pp. 84-92; 


plantation area, supplying much of its grains and meats. Any river 
system, as Miss Semple points out, is a unifying force connecting in 
the bonds of commercial interests settlers at its navigable sources 
with dwellers at its mouth. The D'elta could by no means absorb 
the bulk of the products of the great valley, so that many cargoes 
had to be transhipped at New Orleans for the ocean traffic. Thus 
while the Northwest became the granary of the lower plantation 
area it looked abroad for other markets. The trend of political 
combination failed to follow the drift of commercial intercourse. 5 
The Erie Canal was opened in 1825 and the old Northwest be- 
came in course of time firmly bound to New York through the 
Erie, for the distance to the sea was shorter this way than through 
either the Mississippi or St. Lawrence. The Erie Canal in the words 
of DeBow's Review "made the Mississippi river to flow backward." 
In this era the palatial and luxurious steamboats came to present a 
vivid contrast to the semi-frontier regions through which they 
voyaged. The famous races between crack river steamers like the 
Natchez and Robert E. Lee lasted well into the post-bellum period. 
The Civil War and the railroads were to finish the work begun 
by the canal. By the time the traffic on the river had recovered 
from the shock of war, parallel railroads had come to take its place. 
The river has never again reached the high water mark, set in 1880, 
of one million tons received and transhipped at St. Louis for the 
lower South. The greater speed of the railways, the prevalence 
of many well-located branches, undermined the greatest historic 
internal waterway systems developed in the United States. A sur- 
vey in 1925 showed that the old time packets had been pushed 
of? the river. 6 No through steamers from St. Louis now make runs 
to Memphis, Vicksburg, or New Orleans. Five boats out of St. 
Louis and several out of Memphis remain to carry excursions or 
local freight connecting with trunk lines. The fact that the crisis of 
the World War gave the railroads more freight than they could 
well handle led to the establishment of a line of power barges for 
heavy traffic. These proved successful and at the close of the strug- 
gle were turned from government to private management. It can- 
not be said that they have made serious inroads on the railways, 

5 Ibid., pp. 256-68. 

6 C. A. McCombs, "Present Status of Navigation of the Lower Mississippi," 
Journal of Geography, XXIV, 17-19. 


and they offer no promise of return to the days when the Mississippi 
River was the commercial artery of a nation. However New Or- 
leans and the Delta may have failed to organize the valley as its 
hinterland, the Crescent City retains its position as the second port 
of the nation. The Delta of commerce is thus not wholly a thing 
of the past, though the river is no longer its main artery of traffic. 


The Delta has always been, even in its palmiest days of com- 
merce, predominantly a region of agriculture. "A land of low 
ridges, flats, cypress swamps, canebrakes, sloughs, and bayous, cov- 
ered everywhere with great hardwood forests," it appears almost 
primeval. 7 Soils of surpassing depth and richness have accumulated 
silt at each overflow. Cotton obsessed, Negro obsessed, and flood 
ridden, it is the deepest South, the heart of Dixie, America's super- 
plantation belt. The Delta, so-called, consists of a series of basins of 
rivers which flow into the Mississippi. In Arkansas the delta coun- 
ties are clustered in the St. Francis Basin with Memphis as its 
metropolis and at the junctions of the White and Arkansas with the 
Mississippi. In Mississippi the Yazoo River marks of! a delta area 
with Greenville and Vicksburg as commercial capitals. In Louisiana 
the Ouachita, Red, and Atchafalaya Basins are outstanding. To- 
gether with the alluvial lands of the great river, these basins form 
the Delta. 

Here are the river bottom areas. The brown and mottled clay 
soil characterized by cypress, red gum, and oak growths produced 
before the boll weevil a smooth, silky staple as long as i% inches 
and of exceptional strength. Old buyers have given special names 
to the best cotton grades. "Benders" are grown in the bends of 
the Mississippi, "rivers" on the banks of tributaries, and "creeks" 
along the smaller streams. Hubbard writes of old time photo- 
graphs displayed in many cotton offices showing a planter on horse- 
back in his field with the animal almost hidden in the foliage. 
Very little fertilizer is found necessary on many of the alluvial 
farms. The so-called second bottoms which lie above overflow also 
produce good yields. 

Plantations in the alluvial valleys are more numerous and larger 

7 Fern Ellison Dorris, "The Yazoo Basin in Mississippi," Journal of Geography, 
XXVIII, 72-81. 


than elsewhere. In the Yazoo Delta 70 per cent of the improved 
land is in cotton, 85 per cent of the farm land is operated accord- 
ing to the plantation system, and 86 per cent o the farms are op- 
erated by Negro tenants. The largest plantation in the world at 
Scott, Mississippi, in this Delta contains 37,000 acres. The average 
tenant's holding in this region is about twenty-three acres with 
around twenty acres in cotton. The Yazoo Delta has averaged at 
one time the highest yield of cotton in the cotton belt, 265 pounds 
to the acre. The land is flat and the rows stretch far away. On view- 
ing the region for the first time one is likely to be oppressed by the 
lowness of the country and the innumerable tenant shacks each 
with its cotton house, that stretch far away into the distance. 8 

Slavery carried the Negro to the Delta; and mosquitoes, malaria, 
floods, and the high price of river bottom land have helped to keep 
yeomen white farmers out. Three types of plantations are dis- 
cernible: the small plantation managed by the landlord who lives 
on it and directs to some extent the work; the large plantation 
owned by a capitalist or possibly a corporation and run by a man- 
agerial staff; and the plantation bought as a speculation by one 
engaged in another business who attempts to operate it as an ab- 
sentee landlord. The< 1910 Census of Plantations which also cov- 
ered areas outside the Delta found the average plantation to con- 
tain 724 acres of which 425 were in improved land. The average 
value of lands and buildings was $17,322. The average plantation 
possessed an acreage five times and a value three times as great 
as the average for farms in the United States. The landlord re- 
tained for his own cultivation an average farm valued at $6,564, 
containing 330 acres, 26 per cent of which was improved. The av- 
erage tenant farm contained 38.5 acres of which 81 per cent was 
improved. The tenant's farm, slightly over one tenth as large as the 
landlord's farm, was composed of richer and better cleared land. 
The total value of the average tenant's farm, however, was under 
$1,000 with buildings worth only $I79. 9 

The Delta plantation is a unified economic organization with a 
system of management and a program of supervision of its work 
stock, implements, and Negro labor. To the owner or general man- 
ager falls this difficult task of financing the plantation by keeping 

8 Rupert B. Vance, Human Factors in Cotton Culture, pp. 20-22. 

9 Ibid., pp. 70-71; 1910 Census, V, 881 ff. 


up connection with credit institutions, by purchasing supplies, mar- 
keting products, and overseeing with thq aid of a bookkeeper the 
accounts of all the tenants. Next in authority comes the farm 
manager. This successor to the ante bellum overseer has risen in 
intelligence, social status, and managerial ability. He directs the 
planting and cultivating of crops and the operation of the gin and 
the supply store. A gin mechanic is kept only during the active 
ginning season, but, if! the plantation is fairly large, a commissary 
manager is kept the year around. In order to avoid losses, the man- 
ager supervises the tenant's financial dealing so that his living ex- 
penses advanced do not exceed his productive capacity. The work 
stock, tools, and crop, whether belonging to landlord or tenant, must 
be looked after. Tenants may desert at critical times, leaving debts 
unpaid and crops untended. All these contingencies require in the 
plantation manager a skillful blend of tact and firmness in dealing 
with the human element on the plantation. The average salary for 
plantation managers in 1920 was $2,100 a year and included as 
extras, free house rent, food for the family, and pasture for live 
stock. Assistant managers and overseers received $1,550 and $1,000 
respectively with perquisites. The average cost of management on 
cotton plantations was approximately $1.83 per acre in crops. 10 

The production of cotton throughout the whole Delta is or- 
ganized around thq system o credit whereby it is financed. The 
plantation owners are forced to furnish their tenants not only mate- 
rial for working the crop but living expenses until the crop is har- 
vested. To do this the owner is himself forced to borrow from 
at least four principal sources: banks, wholesale merchants, cotton 
factors, and local merchants. A study of conditions in 1922 showed 
that varying with locality, from 40 to 80 per cent of the planters' 
advances came from local banks. 11 Wholesale grocery companies 
operating in the Delta estimate that about 50 to 90 per cent of their 
business is done with plantation commissaries to whom they ex- 
tend a line of credit amounting from 10 to 20 per cent of the total 
credit secured by the planters. In turn the owner gives the tenant 
a line of credit at his supply store, based on the tenant's cotton 

10 C. O. Brannen, "Relation of Land Tenure to Plantation Organization," U. S. 
D. A., Bulletin 1269, pp. 12-27. Vance, op. cit., pp. 71-73. 

U W. J. Corson, Financing the Production and Distribution of Cotton, Federal 
Reserve Bulletin, 1923. 


acreage and secured by a crop lien. Each month the tenant is al- 
lowed to draw a part of his credit allowance in goods priced 
usually 10 to 25 per cent higher than the cash prices. The cotton 
factors to whom the crop is consigned for sale once furnished 
much of the credit but have recently suffered heavy losses. In 1922 
some 5 to 10 per cent of planter advances in certain areas came from 
factors. The figure has declined since then. Such is the credit sys- 
tem by which the Delta plantations are kept functioning. 12 

To what kind of region does the Delta soil, cotton production, 
the Negro, and the ever-present plantation give rise? We may 
best answer this question by comparing the social-economic char- 
acters of 33 Delta counties: nine in Arkansas, twelve in Louisiana, 
and twelve in Mississippi with their state levels. 13 The Delta area 
is more rural than its rural states. An overwhelming proportion of 
its population is Negro, much above state average. In the Arkan- 
sas Delta the percentage of Negroes in the population is 73.8 as 
compared to 27 for the state; in Louisiana, 59.1 compared to 38.9 
for the state; in Mississippi, 79.8 to 52.2 for the state. Two Missis- 
sippi counties show over 90 per cent Negro population and one 
has only 682 white persons in the county. The natural increase 
of population is lower for the river counties than for their states 
and the infant mortality rate is much higher. 

The percentage of land in farms in the Delta is above the state 
levels for Mississippi, slightly above for Arkansas, and below state 
levels for Louisiana. The size of Delta farms is much less than 
for the state, being half or slightly over. This is due to the fact that 
the census counts tenant farms rather than plantations. The ten- 
ancy ratios, both white and black, are much higher than in the 
states. The value; of Delta farm property except in Mississippi is 
lower than state levels. Value of farm buildings, land, and ma- 
chinery also rank below state levels, indicating small size and lack 
o improvements of tenant farms. Only half of the farms in the 
Arkansas and Mississippi Delta and less than a fourth in the 
Louisiana have milk cows. This is far below the levels for 
their states and is paralleled by the Delta's low ranking in hogs 
and poultry reported. Mules comprise three fifths of the value 

lbid., pp. I74-75- 

13 This has been done by Virginia Denton in "Social Economic Characteristics 
of the Mississippi Delta," Master's thesis, University of North Carolina, 1930. 


of all live stock reported in the Delta in 1925. With regard to in- 
come from farms, only the Mississippi Delta exceeds its state av- 
erage in the ratio of $834 to $645. In Arkansas their incomes are 
approximately equal while the Louisiana Delta ranks lower than 
its state averages. In the value of crops the Arkansas Delta ranks $30 
per farm lower than the state, the Louisiana Delta is $80 lower, 
while the Mississippi Delta farm ranks $270 above the state av- 
erage. The percentage of, Delta farms mortgaged is considerably 
higher than for the whole state: for Arkansas 47.8 to 32 per cent; 
for Louisiana 39.6 to 27.3 per cent; and for Mississippi 49.9 to 33.1 
per cent. In all three instances the Delta counties outrank their 
states in illiteracy by large margins. In each case, however, the 
percentage of white illiteracy in the Delta is lower than in the states 
as a whole. The Negro illiteracy rate is much higher in the Delta 
counties of Louisiana and Mississippi than in those of Arkansas. 
These facts indicate that the white population of the Delta is a 
selected population, selected by that process by which the plantation 
vanquished the frontier. 

With regard to resources, the Delta still represents the highest 
economic range the South with its peculiar social organization of 
black and white may be expected to attain without industrializa- 
tion. Nowhere are ante bellum conditions so nearly preserved as in 
the Yazoo Delta. From the plantation mansions with their colonial 
architecture to the planter type, the Delta harks back to a proud 
agrarian tradition. Affable and courteous with equals, command- 
ing and forceful with inferiors, the Delta planters composed Mis- 
sissippi's aristocracy; and, as long as they held control, state politics 
preserved at least the form of dignity and decorum. Conversely, 
here the Negro is to be found at his lowest levels in America. The 
percentages of croppers and of illiteracy, valuable economic and 
social indices, are greatest in the Delta. Mississippi remains the 
one commonwealth whose population is over one half Negro, 
and ugly rumors of occasional peonage and the whipping of run- 
away tenants still come out of the Delta. 

The vicissitudes of the plantation owner and his tenants caught 
in the cycles of crop production and the gyrations of the market 
have veritably proved the folk-saying that cotton is dynamite. The 
following report of a district manager of the Mississippi Staple 


Cotton Cooperative Association tells its own story. Mules and hu- 
man beings find themselves reduced to the same level of livelihood. 

There is very little that we can comment on at this writing, other than 
to paint a picture of depression and general business stagnation. All 
planters within the district are greatly concerned as to how they will go 
through the winter, take care of their live stock and labor, until such 
time as furnishing is started again in February. Every planter that we 
know is very much concerned with feeding his stock and tenants at a 
minimum cost, not only throughout the winter but throughout the entire 
growing period of next year's crop. We know of one concern who has 
a schedule by which he [sic] believes he can take care of his live stock 
for i5c a day and his tenants for $4.50 per month per head. If any 
planter in the Delta is interested in securing this formula, we shall be 
glad to send it to him upon request. 14 


Flood is an ever-present threat that gives the Delta many of 
its distinctive regional traits. In the face of a hundred difficulties, 
dwellers in the Delta have kept at the task of building and main- 
taining levees. "Like the Dutch in Holland," observed Edward 
King in 1880, "they assert their right to the lowlands in which they 
live, always braving inundation." 15 The desperate nature of the 
crisis and the magnitude of the task has made for detached at- 
tempts at control rather than for cooperation. Along the great 
river and various tributaries, state laws have provided that a group 
of citizens may come together, organize a drainage district, and 
plan to combat floods according to their own ideas. This means 
the erection of levees "to crowd the water out of the neighborhood" 
which according to J. Russell Smith must mean "to get it onto some- 
body else." In the conflict of local districts any general program has 
been overlooked. In times of danger, levees are often patrolled by 
armed guards to prevent their being dynamited by dwellers be- 
hind the levees on the other side. Such are the lengths to which 
men will go to relieve the danger to their own homes and farm- 
steads. 16 This atmosphere of suspicion and distrust has been en- 
gendered by repeated failures of the levee program in the past. In 
addition, landowners in these districts are weighted down by extra 

14 Staple Cotton Review (Nov. 1930). P- 5- 

15 The Great South, p. 67. 

16 See J. Russell Smith's "Plan or Perish," Survey, LVIII, 370-77- 


levee taxes, unknown in more favored sections. These taxes not 
only seem perpetual, they appear futile. The bonds issued for 
erecting a great levee project are not paid of? before another flood 
has made necessary new tax levies for repair and reconstruction. 
To the perpetual drain of taxation on the propertied classes in the 
Delta is added the recurring crises of flood which touch all Delta 
people, rich and poor, in their property and lives. 

These disasters have occurred so often that a typical description 
may be undertaken. 17 When the gauge at Cairo shows the river at 
the 51 foot stage it is time to sound the signal for a desperate fight 
for life and property along the lower thousand miles of the river. In 
six days the crest of the flood will reach Memphis; in twenty-one 
it will flow past the mouth of the Red River; in thirty it will arrive 
at New Orleans. Within this period the levee boards of each dis- 
trict go into action. They organize their forces, charter boats, order 
and place at convenient points millions of sand-filled sacks. Guards 
are ordered to patrol the levees night and day on the lookout for 
the first signs of a break. Men and materials are rushed to the point 
of seepage. A crib may be built outside to confine the seeping wa- 
ter and thus equalize pressure on both sides of the embankment. 
If the levee is sloughing off on the inside thousands of sand bags 
are packed on each side. If the water rises to the levels of the re- 
taining walls several tiers of sand bags are laid to hold back the 
flood while emergency calls are sent out, warning all in the area 
to save property and live stock. 

These measures in all too many cases serve to delay rather than 
to prevent the threatened break. The waters, however, do not 
emerge in a great wall as when a crumbling dam releases a great 
reservoir down a mountain gorge. In the alluvial plains the great 
basins fill slowly. The waters creep up gradually but relentlessly, 
always seeking the lower levels, the swamps, the bayous, and paral- 
lel streams which will finally some hundred miles below conduct 
them back to the river. Many chances are accorded people for seek- 
ing higher ground and many retreat to upper stories or roofs of 
houses. The chance of saving human life is thus exceptionally 
good, and it is noted that not a single death was reported as due 
to drowning in the great floods of 1897, I 93 I 9 I2 I 9 I 3> an< ^ J 9 22 - 

17 John A. Fox, Mississippi River Flood Problems, Memphis River Levee Asso- 
ciation, 1915, cited by Jones and Whittlesey, op. cit., pp. 211-15. 


The levees are always the highest spots on the landscape and serve 
as headquarters for rescue parties with their small boats. Live 
stock are, however, not so easily saved. Marooned on hillocks and 
high ground, they take fright at the approaching waters and are 
likely to lose their lives in attempts to swim out, often blindly under- 
taking distances of twenty to thirty miles. Small farmers in the 
flooded area are likely to lose all their household goods. Houses 
are usually left standing, although plastered with river mud, much 
water damaged, and smelling for a long time of the stagnant river 
stench of retreating floods. 

Civilization itself has made these recurring floods more disas- 
trous, for it, has placed more of man's artifacts in their oncoming 
path. In the thirty-five years from 1880 to 1915, the( 29,000 square 
miles of the Delta had seen its railroad network increase from just 
over 200 miles to 3,800 miles spreading in every direction. The 
floods of 1912 and 1913 thus suspended operations on four great 
transcontinental lines. One road, the old St. Louis, Iron Moun- 
tain and Southern, shows the extent of damage. This line had, 
in 1912, 352 miles of trackage under water up to five months; 
612 miles were incapacitated, accounting for a total damage of 
$415,000 expended in repairs. In addition, the road lost $550,000 
worth of traffic, representing approximately $5,500,000 in commerce. 
The recurrence of the flood in 1913 led to further damage of $440,- 
ooo to the lines and a $196,000 loss in traffic. An inventory for one 
Arkansas county showed a loss in physical properties amounting to 
$988,800. In this flood, governmental agencies fed 272,753 refugees 
and issued seven and a half million rations. They were able more- 
over to save 54,500 head of stock. After the disaster the farmers of 
the Yazoo and St. Francis basins returned home in time to plant 
crops only to have them ruined by the flood of 1913. 

It required the historic flood of 1927 to show of what devasta- 
tion the great river system is capable. In one of the innumerable 
backwashes of the Mississippi stands a tree on which some native 
of scientific bent has nailed markers for six previous floods. Lowest 
on the tree is that of 1912, after which came 1922, 1887, 1884, 1882, 
and the highest of all 1927. In this flood 26,000 square miles, dis- 
tributed in 170 counties in seven states were affected. Protecting 
levees along the Mississippi and its main tributaries broke in 195 
places threatening 4,459,283 people. Almost 30 per cent, or 931,159 


of the population were actually in the flooded area. Of the sur- 
ferers 53.8 per cent were Negroes. The great height and force of 
the flood was shown in the exceptional loss of life, 246 having been 
reported drowned. Many believing themselves safe in areas which 
floods had never reached before must have found themselves in- 
exorably trapped in the early stage of the disaster. 

The flood's wide expanse and the material advancement of the 
Delta contributed to make the property loss the greatest in the re- 
gion's history. Seeded and growing crops to the extent of 5,289,576 
acres, or 28.2 per cent of the agricultural areas of the Delta, were 
destroyed to an estimated value of $101,562,395. Live stock and 
other forms of property amounting to $23,086,150 were lost ac- 
cording to estimates of the Weather Bureau. These losses included, 
according to Red Cross records, 165,298 head of live stock and 1,010,- 
375 of poultry. Impossible to estimate were the losses in the wiping 
out of thousands of wild animals valuable for game and trapping. 
Moreover, 162,017 homes were flooded and 8,947 destroyed along 
with 32,540 other buildings. A million people were thrown out of 
their occupations, normal habits, and daily routines. Of these, 
65,005 families lost their household goods, 23,566 lost their farm 
implements, and 38,506 their live stock. It was necessary for the 
Red Cross to care for 325,554 people in refugee camps and to feed 
311,922 others in such temporary shelters as public buildings and 
second stories of flooded homes. Damages to public utilities and 
business were impossible to estimate. The railways bore a loss 
estimated at $10,000,000 and the Red Cross expended $17,000,000 
in relief and rehabilitation. 18 

Here in brief review have passed two of the Southland's dis- 
tinctive regions. In the transition from the Highlands to the Delta 
we have passed from the South's frontier to its plantation zone. 
Each has its problems whether it be of poverty levels and isolation 
or of over-specialization and the threat of floods. In the chapter 
on regional planning we shall glance at some of the programs and 
suggestions for the reconstruction of these regions. 

In the Piedmont of the southeastern states we shall find another 
distinctive region. Having passed through the frontier stage and 
avoided the plantation, the Piedmont is definitely entering the stage 
of industrialization. Here the South is making her first coherent 
break with the agrarian tradition. 

18 The American Red Cross, The Mississippi Valley Flood Disaster of 1927, ch. i. 



THE INDUSTRIAL AREA of the new South stretches in crescent from 
its southernmost tip at Birmingham, Alabama, to its northern end 
near Danville, Virginia. It passes through Alabama, Georgia, South 
Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. For its southern and east- 
ern boundary it hugs the fall line, for its northern and western 
boundary it encroaches on the southern highlands. Its total area 
may be estimated at 50,000 square miles. 


The Piedmont may simply be taken as the pioneer fringe of an 
industrialism that is advancing upon the whole South. Those on 
the ground lack perspective while many people in the North fail 
to realize the size and importance of the industrial transformation 
under way. "The South," writes Broadus Mitchell, "furnishes the 
continent's latest land boom, develops giant power to rival Niagara, 
finds its industrial stocks bought and sold on the New York 
stock exchange with those of Pittsburgh and Detroit. ... It is 
becoming economically a part of the nation by reason of the move- 
ment to it of industrial plants from North and West." It comes as 
a distinct surprise to many to hear that North Carolina, for example, 
has the largest hosiery mill in the world, the largest paper pulp 
mill in the United States, the second largest aluminum plant in 
the world, and that Alabama ranks as the third state in the num- 
ber of blast furnaces. Once the prophet, Henry W. Grady is now 
the patron saint of a new order. "Every skyscraper which rises in 
those astonishing cities of the new South," says a journal of na- 
tional circulation, "is in a real sense a monument to Grady and his 

The Piedmont owes the impetus which furnished its early start 
in industrialization to its characteristics as a fringe belt. Bordering 
on the mountains and the coastal plains, its fringesthe breaks 



where one physiographic province undergoes the transition into 
another have proved important factors in the localization of in- 
dustry. The fall line played its part in the distribution of cities. 
Small boats making their way up the coastal rivers were unloaded 
of their freight at the approaches to rapids, and at these breaks 
in transportation grew up trading centers afterwards to become 
cities. Richmond, Raleigh, Macon, Columbus, Montgomery, and 
Little Rock thus arose at the fall line on southern rivers. Ellen C. 
Semple's generalization ini regard to cities in Piedmont areas may 
well be applied to the South: 

Piedmont belts tend strongly toward urban development even where 
rural settlement is sparse. Sparsity of population and paucity of towns 
within the mountains cause main lines of traffic to keep outside the high- 
lands but close enough to their base to tap their trade at every valley 
oudet. On the alluvial fans or plains of these valley outlets, where 
mountain and piedmont roads intersect, towns grow up. Some of them 
develop into cities. 

Piedmont cities draw their support from plains, mountains and trans- 
montane regions, relying chiefly on the fertile soil and level country to 
feed their large population. Sometimes they hug the foot of the moun- 
tains. . . . Sometimes they drop down into the plain but keep the moun- 
tains in sight. They flourish in proportion to their local resources, in 
which mineral wealth is particularly important; and to the number and 
practicability of their transmontane connections. Hence they often re- 
ceive their stamp from the mountains behind them as well as from the 
bordering plain. 1 

In material and energy resources the Piedmont is also a fringe 
belt. Minerals of the Appalachian ranges either find their out- 
cropping on its borders or nearby. Coal, iron ore, limestone, and 
dolomite reach their maximum surface development at Birming- 
ham, the end of the great valley. Chattanooga and Knoxville are 
in commercial proximity to the Piedmont if not tributary. To an 
even greater extent power resources are conditioned by the transi- 
tion from province to province. The streams flowing through the 
Piedmont receive their "head" from sources in the mountains, and 
find their flow leveled to tamable slopes by the Piedmont incline. 
The slant of the Piedmont also furnishes reservoir sites whose back 

1 Influences of Geographic Environment, pp. 527-28. 

flow does not cover disproportionate areas. After passing the fall 
line the streams level out on the coastal plain until they possess no 
more than enough momentum to wend their sluggish courses to 
the sea. Water wheels in the early stages of southern industry of- 
fered important sources of power and thus argued for the location 
of mills in the Piedmont. With the development of hydro-electric 
power the mills are now strung up and down the crescent-shaped 
fringe within tapping distance of the high-tension power lines. 

In the important matter of reaching markets with the prod- 
ucts of industrialism the Piedmont is again in the position of a 
fringe belt. In some respects it represents the entering wedge of 
the North going South and deserves the phrase, the "North of 
South and the South of North" by which it has been designated. 

The one instance in which climate might have proved a definite 
drawback was found to be a matter amenable to technology. The 
absence of humidity in this area of the South was expected to af- 
ford an obstacle to the; beginning of textile manufacturing. Both 
England and New England, areas of dampness and fog, afforded 
the high natural humidity needed in textile manufacture. The best 
manufacturing conditions, however, are now obtained by artificial 
humidification which can be regulated to the varying demands im- 
posed by carding, roving, spinning, and weaving. Even in the 
mills of England and New England it has long been found ad- 
visable to use the self-regulating humidifiers. 2 

The problem of humidity in textile manufacturing serves to 
give point to the belief of many students that in the large the 
delayed industrialization of the South was not the result of geo- 
graphic factors. The South possessed, if not its third, at least a/ 
fair share of the resources of raw material of mines and agriculture. 
And raw materials can be moved to centers of industry more 
easily than such centers can be moved to resources. The original 
location of such centers is again a matter of capital, technology, and 
skill that may be handed down, and of trained and aggressive lead- 
ership. Unless furnished in the cultural and economic background 
of a region, capital and technology are slowly and painfully ac- 
quired, ofttimes through dearly bought experience. The first im- 
petus, to be successful, may necessarily come from outside. 

*See Jefferson Bynum, "Piedmont North Carolina and Textile Production," Eco- 
nomic Geography, IV, 234-36. 


It may be that the demoralization incident to southern leader- 
ship from thwarted hopes and frustrated efforts deserves much of 
the comment given it. E. Merton Coulter's picture of a thwarted 
Georgia plantation owner at the close of the Civil War is sug- 
gestive. "He became secretary and treasurer of the community 
Sunday school, calling the roll each Sunday and adding up the pen- 
nies how different from the ante bellum gentleman calling the 
roll of his slaves and counting his bales of cotton. Instead of buy- 
ing his gallons of wines and whiskeys he now wrote and delivered 
temperance lectures." 3 

The indecision, the baffled state of mind of a leadership trained 
in one field, lacking the traditions of the new technique, was en- 
countered by Walter Hines Page in a tour of the South many years 

Men spoke of the burden imposed by Reconstruction; they talked about 
the difficulties of developing the country without capital. Many men you 
would expect to be well-informed spoke with a sort of hopeless ignorance 
of economic forces; and you would often hear allusions to the North as 
if it were a foreign country and a country where men somehow pros- 
pered at the expense of the South. I do not recall bitterness in this 
undertone of conversation so much as loneliness an isolation and a 
sense of despair. The South somehow seemed doomed to poverty for a 
long time to come. 4 

A shift in southern leadership from the plantation industry, 
theology, and politics to industry and the arts of commerce was 
to be expected. The traditional valuation of the professions in the 
South had to be reversed with the rise of industry. 

My grandfather was a mighty man in theology in his day. He knocked 
out his opponents and he battered the devil. My father was a lawyer and 
a soldier. He fought the United States by argument and in war. I notice 
that the devil and the United States are both doing business yet. I made 
up my mind, therefore, that I would change the family job and do what 
I can to build mills and roads in Georgia. 5 

This is the way a student in a technical college answered the ques- 
tion of Walter Hines Page as to why he had abandoned the profes- 

3 "A Century of a Georgia Plantation," Agricultural History, III, 159. 

4 Walter Hines Page, "A Journey Through the Southern States," World's Wor\, 
XIV, 9004. 


sions of his fathers. The fact must be noticed, and it may be more 
important than realized, that the South for a long time stood out- 
side the tradition o business enterprise. Its leadership occupied a 
field outside the range of the heritage and training implicit in the 
modern demands of business, finance, and engineering. The first 
southerners to become captains of industry learned the technique 
in northern factories and counting houses. Some like D. A. Tomp- 
kins returned, but many were lost to their section as leaders. 

If, after 1880, the South may have been trying to lift itself into 
industry by its bootstraps, by 1900 the industrialization of the South 
had become largely a case of capital seeking labor supply. Closely 
related to the Piedmont's position as the fringe belt of southern re- 
sources has been the marginal status of its labor supply. Cheap 
labor, it must be candidly admitted, has outweighed other factors 
in developing industry southward. Cotton textiles, chief of the 
labor-orientated industries, has followed cheap man-power the 
world over. It is not necessary to speak of exploitation to account 
for the status of southern labor. It exists on the margin of two 
great industrial empires, agriculture and manufacturing. The small 
farmer exists on the borders of agriculture in the southeast be- 
cause the cotton system, suffering from plethora, is expelling many 
of its tenants and small farmers. Low prices and competition with 
the Delta and the West in which the West has all the advantages 
of level topography, machine cultivation, comparative freedom from 
fertilizer costs and boll weevils have left the southeastern farmer 
seated on the edge of a decadent cotton industry. The Piedmont 
has been in a strategic position to tap the supplies of this marginal 
labor. In earlier times it drew upon the rural dweller from the dis- 
organized cotton and tobacco areas. Recently it has drained the 
highlands of their labor reservoir sustained by a comparatively 
low-level domestic economy. 6 No adequate balance has yet been 
reached in southern areas. The Negro, kept out of practically all 
establishments except the coal and iron of Birmingham, has suf- 
fered a change in his age-old habits and has suddenly become the 
most mobile factor on the southern map. The shutting off of im- 
migration and the resultant high wages, a residuum of war indus- 
tries, have reallocated marginal black tenants bewilderingly con- 
tending with the gyrations of weather, weevil, and cotton prices 
6 Broadus Mitchell, Rise of Cotton Mills in the South, passim. 



in Alabama and Georgia black belts. Southern labor remains a 
problem a problem of oversupply that has not yet been met. 

In yet another sense southern labor exists on the fringes. It 
stands at the outer entrance to industrialism but it has not yet pen- 
etrated far enough within the inner temple to gain its full rewards. 
Compared to their brothers in highly industrialized areas, southern 
workingmen have yet to become skilled. In textiles the finer 
weaves are done in large proportion in Eastern mills. In iron and 
steel the more complex fabrications and higher grade moldings are 
the products of Pittsburgh and Gary. This situation cannot be 
laid at the door of the southern laborer. To some he seems steeped 
in routine, afflicted with monotony and inferiority complexes. To 
many observers, however, including northern investors, he has 
seemed alert, intelligent, and capable of learning involved tech- 
niques. "The southern factory operative," says Broadus Mitchell, 
"is fit for a wider diversity of employments, he merits greater leisure 


(Millions of Dollars) 

(Millions of Dollars) 











3 216.3 







North Carolina 
South Carolina 








Texas . 


The South. 

179. 9 
















The Nation 
South's Percentage of 
the Nation's Manu- 

Percentage Increase 

Percentage Increase 

Capital Invested is not returned in the Census of Manufactures after 1919. 
uct for 1929 will be found in Table XXVII 

Value of Prod- 




Cost of Ma- 


Number of 

Wage Earners 
Average for Year 


terials, Fuel, 
and Power 

Value of 




































North Carolina . 






















South Carolina. 






















Florida . . . 



















7 1 





























































The South 











The Nation 











The South's 

Percentage . . . 











and self direction, requires to be included in social councils, and 
will repay a higher standard of life." 7 That he has not arrived at 
higher skill is so far merely evidence that he has not yet had the 
opportunity. More skilled branches of textiles and steel have lagged 
in southern development and the southern workman has remained 
to a large extent on the outer margin of the skilled industrial group. 
Both the capital invested and the value of products manufactured 
in the South have doubled decade by decade from 1880 to 1920. 
In that period the South increased its share of the country's capital 
in manufacturing from 6.4 per cent to n.i. From 1880 to 1929 the 
section's share of the value of fabricated products increased from 
5.3 to 1 1. 6 per cent. 


Water power may be selected as the one unifying force under- 
lying industrial development in the Piedmont Crescent. Over fifty 

7 "The Industrial Revolution in the South," American Labor Legislation Review, 
XVIII, 25. 


per cent of the industry is electrified. High voltage lines stretch 
for over 3,500 miles and serve an area of over 120,000 square miles, 
an area much larger than the Piedmont. In the Carolinas alone 
these lines reach 160 industrial communities, besides many isolated 
mills and factories. As have many others, this region has gone 
through the cycle from water power to coal and back to water 
power. The trend is definitely away from the small isolated power 
stations first adopted by individual mills and operated by either 
steam or water power. As sources of power they are being replaced 
by large central stations. Water and fuel still compete with each 
other for supremacy in cheapness, and yet equally important is 
their ability to supplement each other in the production of electrical 
energy. Steam power is held in reserve to bear its portion of peak 
loads and to compensate for stream shortage. In comparison to 
other regions "in these states a very high proportion of electric 
power is derived from water wheels rather than steam plants, al- 
though one of the important advantages of the Southeast in the 
generation of electrical energy is the abundance of fuel within short- 
haul distance for supplementing water power." 8 The presence of 
coal, as Raoul Blanchard points out, instead of retarding water 
power development in this region has expedited it. 9 Hydro-electric 
power, suitable for light manufacturing, cannot displace coal in 
industries requiring heat, as steel and brick-making. 

The Southeast possesses more than 20 per cent of the developed 
hydro-electric horsepower of the United States, although within its 
borders are found only 7.6 per cent of the country's potential power. 
Thorndyke Saville, prominent expert in southern power resources, 
holds that with the exception of the Tennessee basin 60 per cent of 
the South's water power resources susceptible of economic develop- 
ment are now harnessed. 10 Alabama, South Carolina, and North 
Carolina rank with the leaders in possessing over 10 horsepower 
per 50 miles of flow. Only in New England and the Carolinas has 
water wheel capacity per square mile come near equaling the water 
resources per square mile available 90 per cent of the time. This 

8 Commercial Survey of the Southeast, p. in. 

"Geographical Conditions in Water Power Development," Geographical Review, 
XVI, 97. 

10 "Power Situation in the Southern Power Province," Annals of the American 
Academy of Political and Social Science, 153, pp. 94-123. 


high degree of development has taken place within a quarter of 
a century dating its beginnings from about 1904. 

The geographic layout for water power in the Piedmont has in 
fact proved more favorable than at first realized. Water power 
is the resultant of two factors,, rainfall and altitude. Rainfall 
furnishes the volume, altitude accounts for the velocity of water. 
The greatest altitude in the United States is found along the 
Rocky Mountains while the highest rainfall, up to 100 inches a year, 
and the greatest amount of annual run-off, over 20 inches, is found 
along the Atlantic. The run-off of the great Mississippi System 
below Cairo, Illinois, is lost because of lack of slope and momentum. 
The ideal conditions for water power a great upland gathering 
ground for water, which when accumulated falls rapidly to the sea 
is met in the Southeast. 11 The Columbia, Colorado, and the St. 
Lawrence systems alone excel this area in America. The lack of the 
large lakes, marshes, and melting snows found along northern rivers 
led to the belief that southern rivers in the summer come perilously 
near running dry. Records kept by the United States Geological 
Survey over a long period of time showed, however, that the min- 
imum flow of rivers throughout the Carolinas and Georgia are 
larger per square mile of drainage basin than in the rivers of New 
England or the Middle States. Such favorable run-off is due to 
the remarkably even distribution of the area's high rainfall through- 
out the year. 12 Porous soils and forest cover also serve to equalize 
flow. Moreover, as W. H. Voskuil has remarked, the peculiar 
contour of mountains and valleys on the eastern slope have served 
to make development comparatively inexpensive. 13 

The southern area has kept pace in the exploitation of energy 
resources. Since 1908 the South has tripled its water power develop- 
ment while the rest of the country was doubling its horsepower. 
For the three years from 1926 to 1929 one half of the gains made 
were in the South and, in 1926, 61 per cent of the gains were south- 
ern. In 1930 the South possessed 25.7 per cent of the hydro-electric 
generating capacity in the United States. The South has thus been 
overhauling its late start in the development of its energy resources. 

u Herman Stabler, "Nation's Water Power," Economic Geography, III, 434-42. 

12 Henry A. Pressey, "Water Power of the Southern States," Forestry and Irriga- 
tion, January 1906, pp. 32-33. 

18 Cited Walter H. Voskuil, The Economics of Water Power Development, pp. 


The first long distance transmission line in the South was built 
by M. C. Whitener in 1896 from a small power plant on the 
Catawba. The hydro-electric development of the Piedmont got 
under way when J. B. Duke and W. S. Lee organized the Southern 
Power Company in 1904. The story of how Mr. Duke, suffering 
from erysipelas, was instructed by his physician in the intricacies of 
power dams, turbines, and transmission lines has been recounted 
elsewhere. 14 

In Alabama, development was started by Captain W. P. Lay in 
1907 and got well under way by 1912. The Alabama Power Com- 
pany with several hundred millions of capital has become the 
largest single enterprise in the state. This corporation was the 
original owner of the Muscle Shoals site which it sold to the govern- 
ment during the war for one dollar. By 1928 the Southeast was 
served by the following companies with a total annual output of 
about 5,000,000,000 kilowatt hours: Southern Power Company of 
North and South Carolina; Carolina Power and Light Company of 
North Carolina; Georgia Railway and Power Company, Georgia; 
Central Georgia Power Company, Georgia; Columbus Power Com- 
pany, Georgia; Alabama Power Company, Alabama; Tennessee 
Power Company, Tennessee. 

While the greatest potential water resources of the area are to 
be found in the Tennessee River system, the highest actual develop- 
ment has been reached on the Catawba River. The potential 
power of these states was estimated in 1924 at 2,944,000 horsepower 
available 90 per cent of the time and 5,056,000 horsepower available 
50 per cent of the time. The present capacity of the Catawba de- 
velopment combined water and steam plants reaches 953,200 
horsepower, soon to be increased to 1,103,200. From the pool at 
Bridgewater to the tailrace at Wateree, a distance of 300 miles, this 
river has a drop of 1,058 feet. Under the financial guidance of 
}. B. Duke and the engineering skill of W. S. Lee its development 
has proceeded so rapidly as to approach the spectacular. At times 
the amount of power available ran ahead of the market, but the de- 
mands of industry soon caught up and forced new construction. 
So well planned has been the utilization of stream flow that at 
many places the tailrace of one pond flows practically into the 
head of the next storage basin down the river. A drought in 1911 

14 J. W. Jenkins, James B. Du\e, Master Builder, pp. 172-84. 


brought the Catawba River so low that 152 mills shut down for 
lack of power, throwing 70,000 operatives out of work. Such 
sporadic flow accentuated by lack of natural lakes is best overcome 
by the construction of storage reservoirs. In this manner the flow 
has been equalized along the whole system not only for seasonal but 
for daily uses. The Bridgewater reservoir at the head of the system 
possesses a storage capacity of 12% billion cubic feet and regulates 
to a large extent seasonal flow. During the rainy season until 
Septembers it is filled, and by January i it is practically emptied. 
All other reservoirs along the system are used for storage over week- 
ends and when the load is light. By this means a normal 24 hour 
flow is changed to a higher level flow for the 15 to 18 hour period 
when industrial and consumers' demands are highest. The water 
is thus utilized when the full load is on the system. 

The most important stream of the Southeast in relation to energy 
resources is the Tennessee River and its tributaries. The Tennessee 
River Valley has been pertinently called the Ruhr of America. The 
expenditure of $750,000 in a detailed survey by the Board of Engi- 
neers of the United States Army of the power and navigation pos- 
sibilities of the river and its tributaries is hardly an adequate index 
of the importance of this area. The total power stretch from Knox- 
ville to Muscle Shoals is 392 miles. Effective development, how- 
ever, must also include the river's tributaries, the Powell, Clinch, 
Holston, Watauga, French Broad, Hiwassee, and Oconee. The 
preliminary report by army engineers estimated over 2,000,000 horse- 
power of undeveloped hydro-electric energy. This is more than 
three times the ultimate power to be reached on the Muscle Shoals 
project and twice the primary horsepower developed by 1923 east 
of the Mississippi and south of the Ohio. The system, moreover, 
must be harnessed as a whole. Continuous flow at a high level 
can be secured only by interconnected series of storage reservoirs. 
Continuous power is always much more valuable than part time 
power. Moreover, if adequate planning is neglected, highways, 
railroads, habitations and towns will grow up in reservoir basins 
so that the expenses of expropriation will forestall development. 
The economic factors in the utilization of the Tennessee system 
are favorable; but the market for all its potential energy resources 
does not yet exist. Cheap power, however, tends to create its own 
market and rising industrialism points the way. 


Super-power is well called a region builder. The Piedmont 
Crescent is fortunate in the possession of interconnected power 
systems which bid fair to foster and unify its regional interests. 
Super-power in the Southeast, however, does not exist as an or- 
ganized system but as potential interconnection of systems. Each 
separate unit had expanded its power resources and extended its 
high voltage transmission lines until the interlacing of the sys- 
tem was a matter of building a few short connecting lines. A super- 
power zone is not created by fiat; it must come as the result of a 
gradual evolution. The wonders it can accomplish in the produc- 
tion of cheap power by tying several central stations into one sys- 
tem have no doubt been overestimated by the public. Such inter- 
connections have nevertheless made possible economies in over- 
head and utilization of power. Capital invested is saved; the load 
factor can be increased for the whole system by smoothing out the 
diversity in peaks; operations can be carried on with less equip- 
ment in reserve; and more efficient stations are operated at max- 
imum, while less efficient plants are called into service for secondary 
power. 15 The greatest contribution of super-power lies in its ability 
to distribute power evenly over a region in case of local shortage. 
The use of transformers has effected the transmission of currents 
of high voltage and low intensity for comparatively long distances. 
The loss of current in transmission ranges from 10 to 20 per cent, 
increasing as the distance of transmission increases. In passing it is 
noteworthy that the Duke lines were the first to engineer the trans- 
mission of power as high as 100,000 volts. While water power 
cannot be efficiently transmitted in the form of electric current 
over stretches of more than 200 or 300 miles, each unit in the inter- 
connected system is able to relay its power to the next link in the 
chain. In this way a severe shortage resulting from a drought in 
North Carolina in 1921 was met by power from Muscle Shoals 
relayed through the Alabama and Georgia systems to the Carolina 

The integrating and unifying effect of cheap and regular serv- 
ice is being felt throughout the southeastern super-power zone. 
The practice of manufacturers in generating their own power is 
on the decline. From 1924 to 1927 in this region the ratio of water 
power developed for their own use by manufacturers in this area 

"Walter H. Voskuil, The Economics of Water Power Development, p. 21. 


fell from 13.2 per cent of such total in the United States to 10 
per cent. Moreover, Thorndike Saville holds that power projects 
developed ahead of their markets and under the necessity of draw- 
ing customers from other areas have created industrial rates that 
are as low or lower than in other states. Preston S. Arkwright, 
President of the Georgia Power Company, has pointed out that 
the industrial power rate for the South was 1.359 cents P er kilowatt 
hour compared to 1.544 f r 68 cities scattered over the United 
States. 16 

One advantage of power to the Piedmont Crescent is found in 
the even distribution of industry it has fostered throughout the re- 
gion. Hydro-electric transmission has fallowed an this zone the use of 
power at practically any point where labor, raw materials, and mar- 
kets make the construction of a factory advantageous. Here we 
have the application of electricity to an industry capable of regional 

Coming into action late the industrialism of the South, unhampered by 
tradition and unencumbered by obsolescent power establishments, took 
over the practice best suited to its needs. Thus while the northeastern 
States form an illustration of centralized industry, establishing itself first 
in New England and migrating later to the Central Atlantic States and 
thence westward, the South displays a regional development of industry 
nowhere intensely focused but spread, on the contrary, in diluted form 
over a large area. The contrast is suggestive; for permanence, for na- 
tional well being, for the common good, it would appear that a balanced 
economic life in which each section manufactures, in large measure its 
own products is preferable to a highly intensified manufacture setting up 
its own interests in opposition to the more extensive producing areas. 
The South presents an example of a power supply disposed to create a 
normal development from within, with minimum detraction from the 
opportunities peculiar to other sections. 17 

The next logical step in the distributive process as applied to 
power is rural electrification. Dependent at first upon increased 
returns in agriculture it may be expected to lead the way to great 
cultural and economic developments in farm life. In Switzerland, 
for example, under a government ownership system in which the 

18 "Power Situation in the Southern Power Province," The Annals, American 
Academy of Political and Social Science, 153, pp. 94-123. 

1T C. G. Gilbert and J. E. Pogue, America's Power Resources, pp. 136-37. 


user pays royalties to the state, water power goes into the house 
and barn of the peasant, thrashes his grain, churns his butter, pumps 
his water, and prepares his cattle feed. The Columbus (Georgia) 
Electric and Power Company has lines with over 300 rural cus- 
tomers with special rates and has worked out a plan for joint 
financing of rural lines by consumers and the company. Rural 



(In Thousands of Horse Power) 





1 . Virginia 

2. Kentucky 

3. North Carolina. 

4. Tennessee 

5. South Carolina. 

6. Georgia 

7. Florida 

8. Alabama 

9. Mississippi. . . . 

10 . Arkansas 

11. Louisiana 

12. Oklahoma 

13. Texas... 

Total South . 
The Nation.. 
























Mo tor Run by 



1 . Virginia 

2. Kentucky 

3. North Carolina . 

4. Tennessee 

5. South Carolina . 

6 . Georgia 

7. Florida 

8. Alabama , 

9. Mississippi . 

10. Arkansas 

11 . Louisiana , 

12. Oklahoma 

13. Texas.. 

Total South. 
The Nation . 



















































lines in Alabama increased from 38.9 miles with 240 customers in 
1924 to 183.3 m ^ es serving 1,796 farm homes in 1926. The total, 
completed and authorized, will reach 350 miles to serve 3,618 cus- 
tomers. In Texas the Central Power and Light Company furnishes 
rural current for the electrical irrigation of more than 112,500 acres 
of rice lands, onion, spinach, and winter gardens. Many cotton 
gins in this area now operate with power from high tension lines. 
Just as electric power has aided in the even distribution of textile 
mills throughout the villages of the Piedmont, it may create a 
new type of domestic economy on the isolated farm. 


The industrial mainstay of the Piedmont crescent is cotton 
textiles. The first industry to arise in the Southeast remains the 
leading exponent of southern manufactures. Historically, it dates 
from the days of household industry when Hamilton's report on 
manufactures in 1791 estimated that in some districts of the South 
from two thirds to four fifths of all the clothing of the inhabitants 
was made at home. Power spinning was known in three South 
Carolina localities, Charleston, Williamsburg District, and States- 
bury as early as 1790. North Carolina's first mill, the Schenck 
Mill, was built at Lincolnton in 1813. Harriet L. Herring has 
pointed out three periods of increased activity in the construction 
of mills in the ante bellum period: during the War of 1812, the dec- 
ade after 1820, and from 1845 to i852. 18 Revival after the Civil 
War and the flurry of Reconstruction began the vigorous upward 
swing in textiles that was fated to surpass the rest of the nation 
in physical production by 1921 and in value of product by 1925. 

This startling rise of a new-old industry has often had its story 
told. 19 Civil War and Reconstruction, however much they have 
been overplayed in southern apologetics, squandered the sections' 
resources and left its leadership in a state of shock. It required 
the rise of many successful enterprises after the seventies to exorcise 
the belief that only Yankees could manage cotton mills. Against 
the counsel of northern advisers like Atkinson, southern colonels, 
planters, doctors, and lawyers began to organize, build, and manage 
factories so that their towns might have mills and poor whites might 

Thc Annals, American Academy of Political and Social Science, 153, pp. i-io. 
18 Broadus and George Mitchell, The Industrial Revolution in the South. 


have work. Installment plans opened small savings to these amateur 
organizers, while machinery houses and commission firms granted 
long-time credits and subscribed for stock in order to gain new 
patrons. Claudius T. Murchison has written: 

To establish a mill it was only necessary for the promoter to enlist the 
support of a few local friends to the extent of making available a sum 
which would assure a beginning equity in the venture of from $50,000 
to $100,000. For the remainder of the capital a part could be secured via 
the loan route from bankers and a part from the machinery manufac- 
turers. It was not uncommon prior to the war for the machinery manu- 
facturers to accept, as a considerable part of their payment, stock in the 
proposed corporation which would later gradually be liquidated as the 
business became established. The character and layout of the plant and 
equipment would be left to the specialized mill engineer and to the 
machinery manufacturers. All that remained to be done was to import a 
works manager, two or three mechanics, choose the labor force from the 
army of applicants which crowded the gates, open the selling account 
with a New York commission house who advised as to the character of 
the output and the project was under way. 20 

"An industry of these specifications," he adds, "was to the South of 
ten or twenty years ago like manna from heaven." 

The rise of a successful and aggressive industry in the low price 
goods began to cut into the competitive earnings of New England 
mills. This was reflected by a threefold migration southward of 
units of the industry. First, southerners started mills of their own. 
Large corporations established southern branch mills for the pro- 
duction of low-count fabrics, while continuing to produce fine 
goods in the North. Then other mills losing in the competition 
were picked up and moved South. This last process might result 
in actual moving of equipment or it might mean the closing of a 
northern factory and the opening of one in the South. To the 
Piedmont chambers of commerce enticing outside mills became a 
greater sport than promoting local factories. A mill a week is said 
at one time to have been the motto of such an organization in the 
Southeast's largest textile district. Moreover, when depression 
came it appeared to hit New England harder than the South, and 
thus even in the periods of falling prices southern expansion con- 

80 King Cotton Is Sic{, pp. 131-32. 

Back of this historical development are to be found the elements 
of regional geography and national economy. Compared to other 
southern industries, textiles furnish a far flung network of units. 
Unlike mining, the industry is not anchored to a fixed natural re- 
source. Power lines distribute the energy to every hamlet. As for 
the location of the industry, the presence of near-by cotton fields 
carried no more weight than the presence of markets. Textiles in 
the South is thus a village, even a country-side, industry as com- 
pared to many others. The congestion and the crowding found in 
so many manufactures are here of no utility. Yet with every en- 
couragement to scatter, it is remarkable that all down the south- 
eastern tier of states the cotton mills are bunched compactly in the 
Piedmont crescent. Approximately three fourths of these mills are 
in the two Carolinas, and Gaston County boasts as many as a hun- 
dred. 21 Seventy-seven counties in 1931 contained more than 80 per 
cent of the nation's spindles. Of these 77 counties which possessed 
more than 100,000 spindles each in 1931, 21 are found in North 
Carolina, 15 in South Carolina, 13 in Georgia, 6 in Massachusetts, 
and 5 in Alabama. The other counties are found in eight states. 22 
It is the narrow, little streams, red from the erosion of clay hills, 
that first anchored the mills in the Piedmont. These streams, once 
thought useless because they would not float a boat, came to be 
dotted here and there with small mills in the days when water 
wheels vied with steam engines as sources of power. Here again 
the fall line served as a zone of demarcation beyond which the 
streams flattened out so as to possess no impetus. Here then in the 
Piedmont the power revolution found the mills and here it built 
others. Much more widely distributed, by virtue of its reliance on 
electric power, than other southern industries, textile manufacturing 
is surprising in its comparative confinement to the Piedmont. 

The increasing localization of cotton mills in the South has often 
been explained in geographic terms as the movement of an indus- 
try seeking the source of its raw material. The explanation is not 
adequate. Freight rates are much higher on finished goods than 
on raw cotton. Compared to other industries, there is little loss 

21 Robert M. Brown, "Cotton Manufacturing: North and South," Economic Geog- 
raphy, IV, 74-87. 

22 Cotton Production and Distribution, Bulletin 168 Bureau of Census, 1931, 

P- 33' 


of weight in textiles in the transition from raw material to the fin- 
ished product. Accordingly, proximity to markets is of more avail 
than proximity to raw material. The North and East, moreover, 
furnished greater purchasing power than the South. In addition, at 
first much of the goods turned out in the South had to be sent to 
New England for dyeing, bleaching, and finishing before they 
were returned and sold in the South. Under these circumstances, 
no comparative advantage of location could be said to obtain even 
for the southern market. Both parties, mill operators and cotton 
growers, have proved so indifferent to this factor of resource location 
that southeastern mills buy a majority of their cotton from the 
Delta and the West. The upland staple has been getting shorter each 
year, so that much of it has to be exported to cheaper foreign mar- 
kets. Only South Carolina, by virtue of the work of Clemson Col- 
lege and D. R. Coker in seed breeding, and the cooperation of the 
mills, has been able to improve her staple. On future contracts 96.6 
per cent of the South Carolina crop is tendable. In 1930 South Caro- 
lina had 48 per cent of her crop in the 15/16 to 1-1/16 inch staple 
class; North Carolina 39.5 per cent; Georgia 15.6 per cent; Alabama 
5.4 per cent. 23 As long as this situation obtains the southeastern 
mill loses as much as it gains by the logic of location. 

Textiles, while using the raw materials of the cotton states, have 
imported a fair portion of their productive capital how much no 
one knows and market largely outside the region. The com- 
petitive advantage unquestionably obtained by southern textiles 
must, therefore, be sought elsewhere. They are to be found in 
special tax inducements, encouragements by railroads and com- 
munities, abundance of fuel and water power, and a cheap and 
plentiful labor supply. The cotton textile industry, to use Weber's 
terms, is oriented toward labor supply rather than toward markets 
or raw materials. 24 In addition, the recency of the development 
has operated to the cumulative advantage of southern mills. The 
newer installations have provided them with up-to-date plants and 
machinery while their housing, routing, and layout are planned in 
accordance with the latest technology. Equipment and processes are 
thus found better adapted to local conditions and modern require- 
ments than in old and conservative New England mills. It must 

88 Press Release, Bureau of Agricultural Economics. 

24 C. J. Friedrick, Alfred Weber's Theory of the Location of Industries. 


not be thought, however, that these technical improvements have 
implied more than a slow invasion of New England's superiority in 
fine goods. Such proficiency slowly gained requires workers whose 
aptitudes are the heritage of generations of skill and tradition. 

This brings us at once to the consideration of labor as the de- 
cisive factor in the shifting of the industry. Here we are embark- 
ing upon the most controversial phase of the situation. Cotton 
milling has since its early beginnings demanded an unusually large 
number of workers for a mechanized industry. Moreover, the tasks 
of many of the machine tenders are so automatic that they may 
be said to border upon the perfunctory. Many of the details can be 
executed equally well by children after a little training. Accord- 
ingly, the workers have a low wage status and, after the passing of 
the idyllic days when Lucy Larcom was a New England mill girl, 
a kind of indefinable stigma has become attached to the cotton mill 
worker. Discussion of the mill village as a segregated community 
and the mill worker as a social type has been particularly vigorous 
in the South. 

That a comparison of money wages shows the advantage to 
rest overwhelmingly with northern operatives is well known. Bu- 
reau of Labor figures computed for a year show the following 
weekly wage scales: 

Men Women 

North Carolina $17.19 $14.06 

South Carolina 15.01 12.05 

Georgia 15.28 12.52 

Massachusetts 22.05 17.95 

New Hampshire 25.27 20.90 

Rhode Island 22.13 18.64 

Such figures which may be taken as typical if not average show a 
differential in favor of the North, ranging from $3.89 to $8.85 per 
month. 25 Clarence Heer, in his Income and Wages in the South, 
found the South's textile wage to be 66 per cent of that paid else- 
where. This differential increases the deeper one goes into the agri- 
cultural South. Thus, a United States Bureau of Labor Bulletin 
shows average hourly wages in 1926 to range thus: 

25 See Margaret Scattergood, "Facts About the South," American Federationist, 
XXXV, 826-29. 


North Carolina 332 

South Carolina 261 

Georgia 258 

Alabama 245 

Table XXIX is arranged to show these regional differences. 








per Weekf 








New Hampshire 





















Rhode Island 

994 57 

1073 42 



997 49 


New England Average 








North Carolina 







South Carolina 







586 19 

588 43 

594 78 

652 02 

632 67 


568 12 

600 30 


641 59 

608 71 

No limit 

Average in Cotton Grow- 
ing States . . 






Difference between New 
England and Cotton 
Growing States 






*Based on compilation by Russell T. Fisher, secretary National Association of Cotton Manu- 
facturers, from the latest U. S. Census statistics, in Henry P. Kendall. "Cotton Textiles: Where a 
Minority Blocks Concerted Planning," The Survey, LXVII, p. 593. 

fLegal limit for employment of women and minors. 

{Includes 3 establishments in Vermont. 
**Drop from 1927 due in part to strike in New Bedford (3700,000 loss in wages). 

By many, these differentials; have been taken merely as an in- 
dication of skilled processes of New England operatives as com- 
pared to the increasing lack of skill further South. There is, of 
course, truth in this contention, but it fails to account for the drift 
southward of the manufacture of fabrics requiring the least skill 
in processing. The other side of the shield is, of course, found in 
the fact that the typical industrialized community of the East by 
the very multiplicity of its activities competes for its labor supply, 
and thus offers it a higher wage. 

The claim is often made that the differential in money wages 
is smoothed out in real wages. That the southern mill worker pos- 
sesses real advantages as a consumer is undeniable. As so often 


pointed out, his house i$ given him at a nominal charge of some 
25 cents per room per week. Thus, for the average four-room 
bungalow he pays a rental of $4.00 a month. Studies by the Na- 
tional Industrial Conference Board, however, have shown fuel costs 
to be no lower for southern than for New England textile operatives. 
By virtue of the climate his clothing need not be so substantial nor 
so costly. It is also claimed that living in an agricultural area the 
southern worker finds the cost of food cheaper. A family budget 
study found food costs 6.3 per cent higher in Fall River, Massachu- 
setts, than in Winston-Salem. 

The southern industrial labor supply may be regarded as affected 
by many factors: location, rural-urban population ratios, tenure lev- 
els, and income levels. The rural areas have not begun to be de- 
pleted of their man power. Over three fourths of the population 
of the five southeastern states live outside cities of less than 2,500 
and more than half the total population lives on farms. In 1920 the 
farm population ranged from 54 per cent of the total for Tennessee 
to 63 per cent for South Carolina, but of the 820,192 white farmers 
in these states in 1924, 348,444 or 42.5 per cent were tenants. With 
no stake in the land, compelled to pay high interest rates and from 
one half to one fourth of their products as rent, these tenants and 
their families furnish a potential labor supply for any mill that will 
open its gates to unskilled labor. Moreover, a family wage of 
$30 or more a week affords returns sufficient to call from the farm 
thousands of small owners whose vicissitudes with cotton, tobacco, 
or highland farming have left them on the verge of failure. For 
a long time to come the southern labor supply bids fair to exceed 
the industrial demand. If the mill jobs were open, if the mill houses 
were vacant, moving time in the cotton belt would find thousands 
of sorely-driven farm families seeking haven in the mill villages, 
so slender and so precarious are the returns from the one crop 

The further one penetrates into the deep South, the less indus- 
trialization, the greater supply of potential operatives, and the lower 
the wages one will find. It was with these classes in mind that 
D. A. Tompkins, one of the South's industrial pioneers, wrote : 

The greatest benefactors of the South are those who have formulated 
plans for the industrial development of the South, and have accomplished 
the maintenance of regular work and regular cash pay rolls. Whoever 


finds the way to keep people employed at profitable wages may depend 
upon it that these employed people will in time be more instrumental 
than anybody else in their own betterment. 26 

This not ill-considered view accounts for the high esteem in which 
the South early held her industrial pioneers. 

We have not the complete data for a final judgment, but one is 
forced to the conclusion that the basic resources of the southern 
cotton textiles is not management, not nearness to raw materials, 
not necessarily improved technology, but labor that works long 
hours for low wages. The differential between New England 
and the Southeast is then the labor differential between a highly 
industrialized area and an area of decadent agriculture. The extent 
to which manufacturers sense this fact can best be shown by the 
deadly intensity with which they engage in conflict with labor 
unions which carry the implicit threat of higher wages. But union- 
ization itself seems powerless at this stage to cope with the excess 
labor supply that besieges factory doors as potential strike breakers. 

Textiles in the South have grown rapidly perhaps too rapidly. 
Within about fifty years they have passed from vigorous youth 
through maturity to the disorganization of an overdeveloped indus- 
try. Well over a billion dollars are invested in southern textiles. 
New England in 1909 possessed half again as many active 
spindles as the South. By 1914 the advantage had declined to a 
third, by 1919 to a fourth, and by 1927 the South was 3,192,030 
ahead. From 1921 to 1927 the cotton states increased their per- 
centage of the nation's total cotton yardage from 54 to 67. In the 
same period the value of the product increased from 44 to 56 per 
cent, showing that growth in values practically kept pace with the 
physical output. 27 With a decline in the value of the nation's total 
product from 1923 to 1925 the South saw an increase of 8,000 in 
the number of wage earners. In 1927 the South possessed 52 per 
cent of the nation's spindles, a majority of the active looms, and 
used 72 per cent of the cotton processed in the nation. In 1930 the 
cotton states had 59 per cent of the country's textile wage earners, 
59 per cent of the spindles, and 72 per cent of active spindle hours. 
Table XXX shows the trends. 

28 Quoted in G. T. Winston, A Builder of the New South, A Biography of D. A. 
Tompfyins, p. 373. 

27 See The Annals, American Academy of Political and Social Science, 153, espe- 
cially Broadus Mitchell, pp. 21-29, and Claudius T. Murchison, pp. 30-42. 












New England 
Other States 
















South's Percentage 

New England 
Other States 

















South's Percentage 

*See Bulletin 168, Bureau of Census, "Cotton Production and Distribution", 1930-31, pp. 42-45. 

Textile management in the South has rested content to exploit 
the comparative advantage of a cheaper labor supply, and until 
recently has not looked elsewhere for opportunities of efficiency 
and coordination. With few alternative avenues of employment 
the southern labor supply must take its choice of agriculture or the 
cotton mill. The specialization is, of course, in the Southeast, 
where two thirds of the industrial workers in South Carolina, one 
half in North Carolina, and 35 per cent in Georgia are in textiles. 
The nature of the differentials in labor costs is such that they lead 
to the establishment in the deep South of many factories whose only 
chance for profits lies in underselling. This in turn probably 
epitomizes the process by which mills were brought South. It is 
discouraging to proponents of stability in the industry to realize 
that Texas and the Southwest now look at the Piedmont 
in the same light in which the Piedmont once looked at New 
England and are prepared to wage aggressive chamber-of-commerce 
warfare to invite the mills to their cheaper labor. The labor ad- 
vantage has tended to mask in the balance sheets the symptoms of 
disorganization in the industry, and its factors of decadence thus 
have passed unnoticed and uncorrected. 


These elements, accentuated by the depression of 1930-32, have 
been pointed out with vigor and clarity by C. T. Murchison of 
the University of North Carolina. 28 Briefly stated, his thesis is 
that cotton manufacturing is an industry caught between two spec- 
ulative complexes the price of raw cotton and the rapid changes 
in styles. Small units incapable of effective consolidation over- 
produce in the competition incidental to attempts to keep up with 
both style changes and the gyrating prices of raw cotton. This 
overproduction brings price levels low enough to result in failure 
of many marginal mills. These mills are bought up at depreciated 
values and reenter production with the necessity of making returns 
only on the marked down values say fifty cents on the dollar. The 
remedy is to be sought in horizontal and vertical combinations 
creating concerns that will be able to exercise a restraining influence 
on production. The most cheering work in the industry has been 
the establishment of the Textile Institute with its accent on research, 
improved technique, more orderly production, and a unified social 


Cost of 


Value of 









Number of 


Power, etc. 



1929 (In 

Hours 1929 

















North Carofina. 








South Carolina. 





























































Total South 








South inc. Ky. 

Md., and Mo. 








The Nation .... 








28 King Cotton Is Sic{. 


No longer is it possible to regard the South's emerging rayon 
industry as an appendage of cotton textiles. Rayon differs so much 
in its geographic, technological, and economic implications that 
it points to a very different development. 

The capital requirements for entering rayon production are 
very high. A rayon plant requires an original investment of from 
three to five millions while larger units are known to take eight 
and ten millions of capital. After the plant is built it is necessary 
to wait for months of labor to secure essential technical adjust- 
ments before beginning production. Thus while cotton mills 
were started in the South after 1880 by local capital and initiative, 
rayon production is open only to interests in command of large 
blocks of capital along with patent rights to certain technical proc- 

Nevertheless, outside capital, much of it from Europe, is seeking 
the South as a locality for rayon mills. Developments in Virginia, 
Tennessee, and North Carolina are well known. In 1927 alone 
fifty millions were invested in rayon production in the South. 
The American Textile Directory of 1929 lists 35 plants devoted in 
whole or in part to the production or processing of rayon. Geo- 
graphic and economic analysis will serve to make clear the reasons 
for such location. Lockwood, Greene and Company, industrial 
engineers, have estimated the production costs in rayon as follows: 
labor, 45 per cent; salaries, 9 per cent; raw materials, 25 per cent; 
taxes, insurance, and depreciation, 10 per cent; supplies and repairs, 
6 per cent; and fuel, light, power, and water, 5 per cent. 29 These 
factors have been transplanted into terms influencing plant location 
by a large rayon producer somewhat as follows: 

1. Topography of site: a level tract of sixty to eighty acres. 

2. Altitude: 1,200 feet or more above sea level. 

3. Position: distance from New York not more than 16 to 18 hours 
by train. 

4. Transportation: at least one railroad to connect the site. 

5. Water supply: a soft water system with a minimum flow of 50 
million gallons daily. For disposal of wastes: site to adjoin a river with 
not less than 500 to 600 square miles of drainage area above site. 

29 Rayon a New Influence in the Textile Industry, Metropolitan Life Insurance 
Company, p. n. 


6. Labor supply: near city of not less than 10,000, lacking other in- 
dustries competing for labor. 

7. Tax exemptions, etc.: local inducement comparing favorably with 

It should be pointed out that these specifications do not mention 
the lowered freight costs to be secured by proximity either to mar- 
kets or to raw materials. Rayon wood pulp, for example, is shipped 
all over the world, the International Paper and Pulp Company in 
1927 supplying from its Canadian mills 90 per cent of the American 
and 45 per cent of the world demand by rayon producers. 30 As 
spruce stands are cut out, chemical research is indicating that the in- 
dustry may look to sugar cane waste, bagasse, and to the whole 
cotton plant for its supply of cellulose. 

It has been suggested in some quarters that rayon is fated to 
destroy the whole economy of the cotton belt as well as those of 
all other cotton producing areas. As yet the industry is too young 
for anyone to predict with assurance the effect of rayon upon the 
consumption of cotton. In the short trend from 1923 to 1927 the 
consumption in the United States of three important fibres in- 
creased in the following ratios: cotton, 13.5 per cent; silk, 51.7 per 
cent; and rayon, 137 per cent. From 1927 to 1930 the produc- 
tion of rayon in the United States increased 43 per cent. The no 
million pounds produced in the United States in 1930 represented 
the industry's first recession, a decrease of 12 million pounds from 
1929. It has been claimed that the increasing use of rayon has 
not decreased the demand for cotton. While it is known that an 
increasing number of cotton mills are using rayon in large quan- 
tities, it is held that the incidental displacement of cotton by rayon 
fibres has been compensated for by the increased sales of the more 
attractive cotton-rayon mixtures. This process of substitution, 
whether at the expense of silk or cotton, must somewhere reach an 
equilibrium. Just where it will tend to stabilize the demand for 
cotton remains a problem for the, future when the trends shall be- 
come more clearly discernible. 31 

80 Rayon, p. 12. 

81 Rayon, p. 22. Consult also: Artificial Silf( Handboo\] M. Avram, The Rayon 
Industry; N. H. Casson, The Story of Artificial Sil{; United States Tariff Commis- 
sion, Information Survey on Artificial Sil^, 1925; Annual Numbers of the Textile 



American Textile Directory 

3 OI 


3 c 
o _5 














































South Carolina 






















































The South 


1 ,009 







The Nation 

9 125 

2 104 

2 480 

1 232 


1 905 


1 244 

*Mills manufacturing more than one kind of goods are listed under all classifications but count as 
one mill in total. 

**Includes flax, linen, lace, jute, batting waste mills, etc. 


The southern tip of the South's industrial crescent will be found 
where the Appalachian ridges gradually slope to the level of the 
coastal plain of Alabama. There at the end of the great valley, in 
the development around Birmingham, geology has provided the 
framework of industrialism in coal and iron. Geography has here 
interlaced three raw materials: iron ore, coking coal, and fluxing 
dolomite and limestone. J. Russell Smith writes of this area: 

The Alabama iron district is one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest, iron 
district in the entire world. It possesses a phenomenal natural equip- 
ment. Jutting out of the hillsides that flank one side of the broad open 
valley are thick deposits of iron ore. On the other side of the valley are 
the coal mines and the coke ovens, and the limestone is at hand. Instead 
of carrying ore a thousand miles, as at Pittsburgh and the English fur- 
naces, or fuel 600 miles, as at Lake Champlain, the raw materials for 
these southern furnaces are shifted across the valley by switching engines, 
and the local supply of cheap black labor helps to give a wonderfully low 
cost. 32 

32 The Story of Iron and Steel, pp. 66-67. 


The extent of nature's resources in this field have been analyzed 
by Langdon White. 33 The Birmingham district is an elliptical 
area 75 miles long and 40 miles wide. In its topography, long, nar- 
row, canoe-shaped troughs parallel each other, separated by well 
defined ridges. In the center of the ellipse lies the city. Through 
the ridges at distances of two and three miles natural gaps are cut 
reaching to the valley's level. Through these natural portals enter 
and depart the railways which serve the city. Within this ellipse 
are contained the elements fitted to foster and sustain a range of 
industrial development in the South paralleling that of Pittsburgh 
and Gary. Lake Superior now furnishes 85 per cent of the iron ore 
produced in the United States. Birmingham ranks second with 
reserves estimated to be equally large. At their present rate of ex- 
ploitation they may be expected to last more than three centuries. 

Not all the advantages of iron ore lie with Birmingham. In 
the Lake Superior field the ore lies at the surface, and great steam 
shovels scoop up three to five tons at every swing. Ore at Birming- 
ham is underground, costly, difficult and slow to mine. The beds 
of red hematite ore which outcrop at the surface slant downward 
with uniform dip and thickness and must be mined by slopes. The 
best area, the Big Team outcrop of Red Mountain, extends for over 
25 miles. Its beds range in thickness from 15 to 28 feet and average 
30 to 40 per cent of metallic content. The brown ores are so irreg- 
ularly spaced in pockets with clay gravel and sand that their de- 
velopment hardly pays. There is a saying that no workman knows 
a brown ore bank beyond the length of his pick. At best the red 
ore ofi this field is low grade, containing less metallic ore per ton 
than ore of the Mesabi range by some 37 to 50 per cent. In addi- 
tion, its high ratio of phosphorus has served to render its manufac- 
ture into steel a more difficult process. 

One would expect to find iron and the limestone of the Great 
Valley together since iron in solution is precipitated in the limestone 
strata through which it trickles. Birmingham ore is self fluxing, 
that is, it contains sufficient limestone for its own reduction. That 
coal should be found in close proximity is, however, one of the 
happy accidents of nature. Of the 3,500 square miles in the area 
more than half are coal-bearing lands of some type. Of the three 

13 "Iron and Steel Industry of the Birmingham, Alabama, District," Economic 
Geography, IV, 349-65. Also Economic Geography, V, 327-34. 


great coal fields, the Warrior, Cohaba, and Coosa, only the Warrior 
field is used for coke. The strata lie nearly flat, but faults at right 
angles operate to make mining difficult. The Pratt seam which 
has proved the best development lies just west of Birmingham. The 
Warrior field has enough coking coal to reduce all available ore, 
a supply estimated in excess of three and a third billion tons. The 
price of coke is lower in Alabama than at other centers. Since iron 
making must be carried on; in one story buildings, the process of 
necessity requires a great deal of space. The geology of iron ore 
deposits on the other hand usually indicates a rugged topography. 
In comparison with Pittsburgh, however, Birmingham is favored 
with plenty of level space for the assembly and reduction of raw 
materials. Vast quantities of water are required for cooling linings 
and other parts of the furnace. For this purpose the Birmingham 
field lacks the natural water supply such as furnished by Pittsburgh's 
rivers, and its metallurgy must be served by pumping plants and 

On the east iron ore, on the west coking coal, in the valley bottom 
between, fluxing dolomite; such ideal juxtaposition means lower 
costs. United States' averages require for the production of 100 
tons of pig iron, 183 tons of iron ore,, 40\tons of limestone, 3 tons 
of scrap, and 102 tons of coke reduced from 151 tons of coal. Like- 
wise, the production of 100 tons of steel consumes 90 tons of pig 
iron, 1 8 tons of scrap, 4 tons of ore, and 120 tons of coal. 34 The 
assemblage of such bulky materials accounts for much of the cost. 
In 1926 the freight costs of assembling were $5.58 per ton for 
Chicago, $4.73 for Pittsburgh, and $2.65 for Birmingham. Entering 
the cost of production per ton is the wages of the Negro labor of 
the South which is cheaper than that of any other iron 
making area and yet comparatively skilled. Langdon White 
estimated the cost of raw materials per ton in 1926 to be $15.10 at 
Chicago, $14.50 at Pittsburgh, and $11.27 at Birmingham. Thus 
in relative costs of assembling and manufacturing its materials 
Birmingham occupies the most strategic position in the pig iron 
industry. The city's handicaps, however, show up in steel production. 

Because of their great bulk and weight, freight costs enter 
largely into the ultimate price of iron and steel products to con- 

84 Richard Hartshorne, "Iron and Steel Industry of the United States," Journal of 
Geography, XXVIII, 133-53. 


sumers. While the tonnage of steel is less than half that of the iron 
ore and the coal required as raw materials, the freight cost of ship- 
ping is twice as great. Nearness to great centers of industrial and 
building activity is thus one of the prime factors in creating a 
great steel area. Birmingham, for instance, has lost the trade it 
once held north of the Ohio and along the Atlantic seaboard be- 
cause of increases in transportation costs. The region can, how- 
ever, compete successfully with Chicago and Pittsburgh in about 
one third of the United States where dwell one third of the peo- 
ple roughly all the South and much of the far Southwest. The 
city, however, is its own best market, 86 per cent of its pig iron and 
50 per cent of its steel being absorbed in local manufactures. 

In foreign commerce the city is well located for the Latin- 
American trade, yet exploits it but little. A step in that direction 
is found in the recently developed inland waterways. From the 
Black Warrior River this waterway reaches the Gulf through Mo- 
bile by means of many locks and dams. Mobile possesses a spacious 
harbor. The inland waterways do not, as has been said, make 
Birmingham to all intents a seaport. The city, it must be remem- 
bered, is far inland; 270 miles from Mobile, and 354 from New Or- 
leans. Since the iron plants are not located on river banks, rail 
carriage and transhipment are necessary. The waterways, how- 
ever, afford transportation at about 80 per cent of prevailing rail- 
road freight rates and in time may come to rival the Monongahela 
as a great carrier for barges of iron, steel, and coal. Alabama takes 
one of the first ranks among states with navigable waterways, pos- 
sessing over 800 miles. 

In spite of the favors of geography, the iron and steel industry 
in the South was slow in its beginnings and development. Like 
everything southern, the industry was retarded by lack of capital 
and technical skill. In 1870, Birmingham was a cotton field in 
which two railroads happened to cross. Railroad officials bought 
up the land, laid out a town, precipitated a boom, and watched it 
collapse. The foundations remained. In 1876 pig iron was first 
successfully made at the old Oxmoor furnaces with coke as a fuel. 
The Pratt mines of coking coal were first opened in 1879. In 
1888 Birmingham saw its first ton of steel run through the fur- 
naces of the Henderson Steel Company and burn out the crude 
furnace linings in the process. In 1899 the first open hearth steel 


was made in the area. In mining the first stage consisted of track- 
ing the beds along the outcrops and mining from the open cut. 
The second stage followed the open cut down the incline with 
underground work. As Pittsburgh was synonymous with steel, 
Birmingham came to mean pig iron. For a long time with no 
local market available, Birmingham produced the cheapest pig 
iron in the country and sold it at ruinously low prices ofttimes to 
competitors who promptly made it up into steel. The industry has, 
nevertheless, made Birmingham the largest city of equal age within 
the bounds of the old South. It did not, however, make the for- 
tunes of the men who managed the industry nor did it conserve 
the professional reputation of its technical experts. For instance, 
while the production of pig iron in the United States, from 1902 
to 1910, had increased 45 per cent, production in the South had 
remained practically at a standstill. A representative blast furnace 
at Pittsburgh produced 16,000 tons of steel a month, while one 
identical in size at Ensley was turning out but 10,000 tons. The 
coal in its fields was handled less cheaply than in other sections; 
the labor while cheap in many ways was dear in reality because of 
lack of skill; the steel was manufactured at too high a cost. An- 
drew Carnegie had told the officers: "You have coal and iron and 
dolomite all here in close proximity, but you cannot make steel." 
The period of ruinous competition and failures came to an end 
for the southern industry when the United States Steel Corpora- 
tion took over the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company in 
I907. 35 

Since that date the industry has come to be regarded as national 
rather than sectional in its implications. The forward movement 
of the district under the guidance of George Gordon Crawford 
has served to accent the dire handicap of lack of capital and tech- 
nical skill under which the industry previously labored. Crawford 
realized the inadequacies and obstacles inherent in the geographic 
and industrial situation, and described them honestly and frankly 
in technical journals. 

If the factor of proximity were decisive Birmingham would 
no doubt stand higher. In the three decades 1910 to 1929 her iron 
output increased 25.7 per cent yet Alabama's share of the national 
production, never large, decreased from 8.5 per cent to 6.3 per cent, 

88 Edwin Mims, The Advancing South, pp. 94-95. 


during this period. Certain disadvantages of the mining field ac- 
count for the small part Birmingham plays in American steel. In 
spite of improved technology under United States Steel, the low 
grade of Alabama ore averaging less than 37 per cent in iron con- 
tent, the necessity of mining ore, as contrasted with the advantage 
of stripping ore in the Great Lakes Region, and the distance from 
markets all operate to place Alabama at a comparative disad- 

The coal fields are badly disturbed geologically making the expense of 
mining very much higher, and the ore is nearly all hard ore, requiring 
to be drilled, blasted, and crushed. Further, the low iron content re- 
quires the use of about one and three quarters times or as much again 
of coke to make a ton of iron as compared with that coming from the 
Lake Superior district. 

The high phosphorous content of southern pig iron prevents the use of 
the cheaper Bessemer process which is used on the low phosphorous pig 
iron of the northern district and the fact that no Bessemer steel industry 
exists in the South to furnish the scrap required in the straight open- 
hearth process prevents the economical use of this process in the South, 
a disadvantage which does not exist in the North where scrap is available. 
Hence it is advisable to use a combination of the two processes, the iron 
being first bessemerized, then worked through the open-hearth furnace. 36 

This duplex process, of course, adds greatly to the cost of convert- 
ing pig iron into steel. 

Crawford thus found that the low price asked for pig iron at 


(Thousand Tons) 

(Thousand Tons) 







North Carolina 


' 6,307 






Total Southern States 







The Nation 

M Arundcl Cotter, United States Steel, a Corporation with a Soul, pp. 81-82. 




Coal Land 
Area in 
Sq. Miles, 

of Lignite, 
Short Tons, 


In Millions 
of Tons, 

In Millions 
of Tons, 

In Millions 
of Tons, 

In Millions 
of Tons, 

1. Virginia 
2. Kentucky . 


















3. North Carolina . 
4. Tennessee 
5. South Carolina.. 

7. Florida 

8. Alabama. . . . 




9. Mississippi. . . . 

10. Arkansas 




11. Louisiana 

12. Oklahoma 




13 Texa 

The South 
The Nation 







Birmingham could be laid to bad bookkeeping and the practice of 
skimming the cream of the mine rather than to the efficiency in 
production. 37 Labor-saving devices, efficiency systems, and a di- 
versified industry for the utilization of by-products came to help 
solve the problems he met. The American Steel and Wire Com- 
pany was organized for the manufacture of nails and wire fence. 
Coke oven plants were constructed to conserve such by-products 
as ammonia, tar, and gas. Another plant transformed phosphatic 
slag into fertilizer. Great water reservoirs, increased trackage and 
elevated railways, by-product plants, and plants for the manufac- 
ture of the finest grades of steel are among the results achieved. 
Moreover, in sanitary, health, and housing provisions the villages 
laid out at Fairfield are models of their kind. 

A glance at the extent of the industry may well close this brief 
survey. In the field of mining in 1925 Alabama produced coal 
valued at $42,422,000 and iron ore worth $14,134,677. These two 
products amounted to over 75 per cent of the state's mineral prod- 
ucts and yet it is noteworthy that they equalled only one fifth the 
value of its agricultural products. The coal mines employed dur- 

87 Edwin Mims, op. cit., pp. 92-112. 


ing 1924 27,956 workers an average of 220 days each. In iron 
mines during 1924 there were employed 7,156 men for 275 average 
days. Alabama ranks third in the United States in the number of 
blast furnaces. Their total output in 1925 was valued at $54,331,148, 
In the manufacture of cast iron pipe, Alabama leads the country 
with a total production of $46,185,000 out of $100,388,000. The state 
had in 1925, 27,500 workers engaged in all phases of iron and steel 
production, producing a total output valued at $194,000,000. In 
Alabama these developments are limited to Gadsden and Anniston, 
and in the Birmingham district the towns of Bessemer, Ensley, Fair- 
field, Oxmoor, North Birmingham, Thomas, and Woodward. In 
Tennessee the industry centering around Chattanooga employs 
more than 5,800 men credited with an output of over $26,500,000 , 38 


Tobacco has performed an astounding economic somersault. For-' 
merly of great importance agriculturally, it has become of much 
greater importance industrially. Once it supported a colonial econ- 
omy and sustained the agricultural aristocracy of Virginia. Today 
its growers hardly receive returns for time and trouble invested. 
Industrially, however, the product has created half a dozen power- 
ful corporations, accumulated capital reserves for the exploitation 
of southern resources, and lifted the first southern millionaires out 
of the dead level of post-war poverty. The industry may be re- 
garded as the first phase of southern industrialism to rise out of the 
soil. Whereas cotton milling has to some extent been a migrant 
industry, moving from the North, tobacco manufacturing is in- 
digenous to the region. Not so basically linked to the resources 
complex as water power or the steel industry, the industry finds 
its geographic foundation in nearness to the raw material of the 
bright tobacco belt. In more than one manufacturing plant it has 
demonstrated that keen business acumen in exploiting a native 
product could be developed in the South. The industry occupies 
the northern tip of the Piedmont Crescent centering the bright to- 
bacco belt. North Carolina manufactures over half the cigarettes 
in the country, having more than three times the output of New 
York, its nearest rival. Its share of total tobaccos fabricated is 
slightly over one third. 

^Hager, Commercial Survey of the Southeast, pp. 103, 132. 


The greatest contribution of the industry has been in the field 
of management. It ranks among the highest in the value added to 
products by manufacturing. In few industries is there found so 
great a spread between the price of raw materials and that of the 
finished product. The industry moreover has shown itself among 
the least subject to cycles of business decline and depression. This 
stability extends both to employment and the payment of divi- 
dends. Not only have earnings been uniform; they have been uni- 
formly high. A report by the Standard Statistics Company showed 
that for 849 railroad, public utility, and industrial corporations in 
1924 the average returns were 6.25 per cent. For 22 representative 
tobacco companies they were u per cent and at no time between 
1920 and 1924 did they fall below 10 per cent. 39 In the earlier days 
factories, small and scattered, were devoted to the preparation of 
cheap, black smoking tobacco and chewing plug. They added little 
to the value of the product, failed to produce a standardized grade 
and produced no famous brands. The finer smoking and plug to- 
baccos were imported from abroad. The art had not yet been ac- 
quired in the home of tobacco. 

The consumption of tobacco is subject to shifting trends in inti- 
mate personal habits, and it is in attempting both to follow and to 
lead the vagaries of social psychology that management has shown 
itself most alert. The habit once begun is rarely stopped, so that 
the more significant trends have been found in the acquisition of 
new consumers and the shift among types and blends. From the 
beginning tobacco was used for pipe smoking. The habit of chew- 
ing developed among the colonists and caught the favor of sailors 
who spread it to all parts of the globe. The popularity of chewing 
tobacco appears to have reached its peak in 1897. Cigars first sprang 
into prominence at the beginning of the i9th century and appear 
to have reached their highest point in public favor during the pe- 
riod 1870 to 1905. The cigarette has long been smoked in Russia 
and Turkey whence it spread to France and England at the close 
of the Crimean War in 1856. The appeal of the cigarette spread 
to America around 1860 and the Civil War operated to diffuse the 
popularity of southern tobacco over the entire country. The story 
of the stripping by Sherman's soldiers of John R. Green's little fac- 
tory near Durham, and of threatened ruin averted by floods of or- 

86 Charles D. Barney and Co., The Tobacco Industry 1926, pp. 23-25. 


ders for that Durham smoking tobacco from the disbanded soldiers 
has often been recounted. 40 Although at first hand-rolled by the 
consumer, the cigarette easily lent itself to machine production. 
Against a wave of taxation, prohibitory legislation, and agitation 
backed by many types of reformers, the industry made its way. 
Henry Ford for instance sponsored the publication of a pamphlet, 
The Little White Slave, and rumor that the paper wrapper was 
soaked in life-sapping chemicals could not be laid. At one time 
the campaign against the cigarette reached such strength that 
James B. Duke was preparing to switch his factories to the making 
of little cigars on short notice. 

The early discovery of the art of blending Turkish leaf with 
domestic tobacco increased the popularity of smoking. About 80 
per cent native to 20 per cent Turkish compose most of the blends, 
and over 75 per cent of the cigarettes are so made. From 1900 to 
1924 cigarette production increased twentyfold. The World War 
stabilized the popularity of cigarettes. The production of tax paid 
cigarettes which was less than 17 billion in 1914 jumped to 71 bil- 
lion by 1924. Smoking proved a diversion and solace to war-sick 
soldiers, and providing cigarettes furnished patriotic activity to ear- 
nest civilians. Most of the increase since 1922 may be credited to 
an incoming army of women smokers. Begun as a fad, continued 
as a habit, smoking among women has pushed over many old 
taboos and has been accepted as the index of a social movement. 
In the midst of these vagaries of changing personal taste man- 
agement has used advertising in an attempt to ride and direct the 
waves of public favor. 41 It has set new standards in sensational 
display in the use of placards, radio, billboards, newspapers, and 
testimonials from the "near great." Restrictive legislation has re- 
treated before the advance of public favor, but over-exploitation has 
"set in motion certain currents of antipathy which have ominous 
possibilities." Large relative decreases in smoking, chewing, cigar, 
and snuff tobacco have represented transference of established to- 
bacco habits to the cigarette. 

The blend and the machine afford sufficient explanation to 
account for the success of the cigarette. The process leading to 

40 See W. K. Boyd, Story of Durham, pp. 57-62. 

41 Charles D. Barney and Co., The Tobacco Industry, 1924, pp. 19-23; 1928, 
p. 4. 

the blend whether highly technical or not is carefully guarded. 
Between the harvest and the finished product the manufacturer 
keeps his tobacco in storage from one and a half to three years. 
Redistributed and reordered according to the classification de- 
manded by blends, the leaf is passed into cooling chambers, packed 
into hogsheads under pressure and placed in great storage ware- 
houses to age. There it remains two years, more or less, and under- 
goes two natural sweats each year. Before blending, the stems are 
removed and the leaf cleaned of dirt and grit, losing 30 per cent 
of their weight in the process.. Blending, the process which im- 
parts the distinctive flavor, is the most highly guarded of all trade 
secrets. After various type leaves are mixed in proper proportions 
they are conditioned for 24 hours, and then run through the cut- 
ting machines which reduce them to shreds. Ingenious machines 
at one operation wrap the shreds in paper in long tubes, cut, pack, 
seal, and stamp at the rate of 500 a minute. If the blend courts re- 
peated sales by insuring a standardized flavor, it is the machine 
which has placed tobacco in the class of the billion dollar industries. 
The blend represented by a brand has become the weapon of war- 
fare in competition. It must be established in public favor and 
kept there by advertising. 

The cigarette manufacturing machine on the other hand has 
proved no less a weapon of competitive struggle. James Buchanan 
Duke, surrounded in the industry's early days by intense com- 
petition in producing smoking tobacco, found himself un- 
able to stem the rival tide of Bull Durham's popularity and 
decided to go into a new field, cigarettes. Cigarette roll- 
ing was a handicraft unknown to the local workmen of North 
Carolina and skilled "rollers" had to be smuggled in from Russia 
where cigarette making was a government monopoly. Two broth- 
ers, Russian Jews, were imported by Duke to introduce the tech- 
nique. It was a costly process, and, when James Bonsack of Vir- 
ginia invented a cigarette machine for leasing to factories on a 
royalty basis, Duke was one of the first to take hold of it. Duke 
installed the machines and captured Bonsack's young Irish me- 
chanic, O'Brien, in charge of the installation. O'Brien became the 
mechanical genius of the firm. 42 The machine, when it made 
cigarettes amenable to large scale centralized production by un- 

42 J. W. Jenkins, James B. Du\e, Master Builder, passim. 


skilled labor, reduced the cost of their manufacture from 80 cents 
a thousand to 39 cents. A comparison with cigars brings out sig- 
nificant contrasts. The value of output of cigarettes is much 
higher than that of cigars; cigar manufacturing, however, employs 
five times as many laborers. These workmen, being skilled, draw 
a higher average wage than those in cigarettes. Moreover, while a 
greater proportionate quantity of leaf is used in smoking tobacco 
and snufT, the total value of an equal bulk of cigarettes in the 
manufactured state is nearly twice as great. 

The strategic position of the machine and the brand soon led 
to? an attempt at monopoly. It is noteworthy that one of the first 
and most powerful of the "trusts" in America was engineered by 
a southern business man using southern capital in the exploitation 
of a southern product. J. B. Duke had out-distanced competitors 
by the use of an efficient machine and had cut the price of a pack- 
age of cigarettes to five cents. There were on the market for sale 
or lease several machines, and retaliation inaugurated a period of 
strenuous competition. Duke set out to acquire the brands and 
business of competitors, and in 1890 effected the consolidation of 
five of the more powerful companies into the American Tobacco 
Company. Small independent manufacturers, unable to stand 
the strain of price-cutting, sold out. Their owners either retained 
their position with the company or agreed to retire from tobacco. 
By 1893 the corporation controlled 93 per cent of the cigarette out- 
put. By 1900 through a subsidiary company, the Continental To- 
bacco Company, it had extended its control over 63 per cent of! 
the plug and 61 per cent of the pipe tobacco output. Another 
subsidiary, the American SnufT Company, enabled the combine to 
claim 67 per cent of the country's snuff production. By extension 
of its influence over other properties, the trust came to own the 
firms producing the licorice, tinfoil, and boxes used in the prepara- 
tion and packing of tobacco. It was in the attempt to dominate 
the cigar industry, however, that Duke met failure. The combine 
was said never to have controlled more than 16 per cent. Small 
scattered units dependent upon skilled handwork rather than ma- 
chine production did not prove amenable to the program of con- 
solidation and overhead economics. 

By 1907 the American Tobacco Company purchased 70 to 80 
per cent of all tobacco grown in the United States; controlled 75 


per cent of the cigarette trade, 70 per cent of the smoking tobacco, 
81 per cent of the chewing, and 89 per cent of the little cigars. f 

The culture of tobacco had spread enormously, the price to 
farmers had fallen, sales had mounted skyward, and the combine, 
known and feared throughout the country, was growing rich. 
Under the Sherman Anti-Trust Law in 1907 the government opened 
suit against the company as a monopoly in restraint of trade. Its 
dissolution was ordered in 1911, and Duke assumed the burden of 
reorganization by distributing the various brands and segregating 
the stock among the component companies. The eggs were legally 
unscrambled, and yet the reorganization conserved the gains 
achieved in the years of the mergers. The brands, for example, were 
distributed among the various companies so that each corporation 
retained the relative share of the trade with which it entered the 
trust. Discrepancies have arisen since the dissolution as, for ex- 
ample, the rapid rise of Camels which has given the R. J. Reynolds 
corporation a disproportionate share of the cigarette trade. 43 

The tobacco industry of the Piedmont, concentrated in a few 
centers of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina, 
furnishes its share of employment and capital to sustain the indus- 
trialization of the section. North Carolina is the first state in the 
fabrication of tobacco, producing one third of all the United States 
supplies. It accounts for over 60 per cent of the cigarette and one 








(1,000 Ibs.) 

Cigars (Millions) 




North Carolina 











The South 








The Nation 

South's Per Cent. .. 

'Does not include 9,952.000 large cigarettes. 
43 C. D. Barney, op. cit., passim; also Jenkins, op. cit., passim. 


fourth of the smoking and chewing tobacco. It ranks as the third 
industry in the state in number of wage earners and size of payroll. 
In total value of products it ranks second. It has shown rapid and 
regular growth, and "compared with the textile industry on the 
whole supports a higher purchasing power." 44 The year 1925 
registered a gain of about 16 per cent over 1923. Then 15,715 em- 
ployees received $12,000,215 for the production of goods valued at 
$343,075,607. The 2,6oo-odd salaried employees received an addi- 
tional six million dollars. The fact that the industry is com- 
paratively unaffected by depression in other lines makes it impor- 
tant as a stabilizing influence in the business life of the Piedmont. 


The manufacture of furniture has come to rank third among 
North Carolina's industries, while High Point is the Piedmont 
synonym for Grand Rapids. In 1888 three young business men with 
a capital of $10,000 erected a plant at High Point to take advantage 
of the abundant hardwoods. They found labor plentiful but un- 
skilled, and by 1890 the town boasted six small factories. By 1928 
the state possessed 108 plants. In 1921 the South furnished 16.9 
per cent of the nation's carload shipments, and by 1925 the sec- 
tion furnished the point of origin for 29.8 per cent of the national 
shipments of furniture. In a period during which the nation 
doubled its furniture output the South multiplied its production by 
four. In 1921 High Point completed at a cost of $1,200,000 its 
furniture exposition building of ten floors and 208,000 square feet 
of exhibition space, the second largest in the country. The pro- 
duction of High Point is classified as cheaper grades, 15 per cent, 
medium grades, 70 per cent, and fine grades, 15 per cent. There ex- 
ists a trend to higher grades because of increasing skill of workers 
and increasing expense of materials in the Piedmont. Quantity 
production and low cost labor are coming to be supplemented by 
research in designing, in manufacturing processes, and in the 
study of public tastes. High Point with a population gain of 156 
per cent in the decade 1920-30 possessed but 36,708 inhabitants in 
1930. Its factories, however, draw hardwoods from the Mississippi 
Valley, mahogany from Africa, cane and rattan from Singapore 
and the Philippines, burlap from India, hardware and fabrics from 

"Hager, Commercial Survey of the Southeast, pp. 130-32. 


New England, and plate glass from the Pittsburgh district. In 
1925, furniture making employed in North Carolina, Tennessee, 
and Georgia 26,610 workers who turned out products valued at 
$56,267,000. Of these North Carolina's 10,324 workers manufac- 
tured $40,073,000 worth of goods. The state now ranks sixth in 
the production of household furniture and eighth in the value of 
all furniture. 



FROM Coast to Piedmont across Highlands and Delta the South 
stalked to its last great frontier, the area of the Southwest. Dif- 
fering from the South in many of its characteristics, the region was 
forced to capitulate as the newest province of the Cotton Kingdom. 
By its climate, its population elements, and its economy the South 
and the Southwest were fairly met. The adherence of Texas to 
the Confederacy further ratified its southern antecedents. The 
area's natural landscape is by no means a replica of that of the old 
South. The Southwest offers no such scheme for the physiographer 
as the valley section of the Southeast. Oklahoma and Texas to- 
gether form a great inclined tableland sloping from an altitude of 
over four thousand feet, attained in the Panhandle, to the Gulf. Were 
it not for the fact that the majority of this area is prairie and plain 
this great expanse would lack any unifying physical factor. One 
writer says "It is impossible to lie about Texas. Tell a thousand con- 
tradictory things and if you seem to lie it is because you have told 
only a part of the truth." It is almost equally difficult to present 
a coherent picture of the physical regions of the Southwest. 1 

First comes the Coastal Prairies, a flat treeless area which fringes 
the Gulf and extends inland in a width varying from thirty to, 
a hundred miles. It has a slope of about one foot to the mile and 
is broken in by peninsulas, deltas, and sand bar islands until it 
meets the sea. In the South the plain of the Rio Grande extends 
landward along the river course until it reaches the Edwards Plateau. 
Parallel to the Coastal Prairies come the Interior Flatwoods, a flat 
sandy soil covered with piney woods and joined on the north by 
the Interior Plains. Just to the west comes Texas' famous Black 
Waxy, covered with prairie grasses and underlaid with limestone. 
Beyond a long narrow strip of forest-bearing sandy soil called the 

1 See E. T. Dumble, The Geology of Texas, Rice Institute Pamphlets, III, 125-204. 


East Cross Timbers comes the Grand Prairie, hillier and drier than 
the Black Waxy. West of that comes a larger expanse of sandy 
soil covered with forests, the West Cross Timbers. 

The limestone areas furnish a close-textured soil perfectly 
adapted for grass, the natural enemy of trees. The sandy soils on 
the other hand produce nothing so well as pine forests. Separated 
from the prairies by eastward-facing escarpments are the plateaus 
of West Texas, the Edwards Plateau, and the Staked Plains. These 
reach to Texas' highest mountain, El Capitan, of 8,690 feet altitude, 
a part of the Western Cordillera on the very borders of New Mex- 
ico. The contrast between these various regions is well marked in 
the case noted by J. Russell Smith of the Balcones Escarpment 
which divides Travis County with Austin in the center into two 
parts. One, the Black Waxy, "looks like the prairies of Illinois 
cultivated, having good farm buildings, and worth from fifty to 
three hundred dollars per acre. In the Edwards Plateau the peo- 
ple have little patches of cleared lands in the valleys. Their cattle 
run in the woods and they make their money by hauling wood 
and charcoal to Austin. Many of these people are from southern 
Appalachia and live and think much as these more isolated moun- 
taineers do." 2 The Panhandle, called Llano Estacado or Staked 
Plains by the Spaniards, "knows winters piercingly cold with 
northers, the rangers say, straight from the Pole broken only by 
barbed wire fences." 3 With their semi-arid climate these areas 
belong with the great Plains Region. It has been described as a 
country where one can look farthest and see less, possessed of more 
rivers and less water, more cows and less milk. "All hell needs 
is fine water and good society" is the way the cowboys expressed 
it. Another legend runs: "The temperature's a hundred and ten; 
too cold for the devil and too hot for men." The meridian of 98 
longitude thus marks a transition line to a factor of greater impor- 
tance for the Southwest than the area's topography of plain and 
prairie. West of this line the average yearly rainfall is less than 
twenty inches oftentimes so much less as to imperil the section's 
whole settled area. Accordingly Texas still contains the largest un- 
developed section in an area of equable climate in the United States. 

2 North America, pp. 247-48. 

8 George Clifton Edwards, "Texas, the Big Southwestern Specimen," in E. Gruen- 
ning (ed.), These United States, I, 307. 


It has been the especial achievement of Professor Walter Pres- 
cott Webb to show that the entrance of settlers into this environ- 
ment involved a change of institutions and culture. East of the 
Mississippi civilization stood on three legs land, water, and tim- 
ber; west of the 98th meridian not one but two of these legs were 
withdrawn water and timber and civilization was left on one 
leg land. 4 The lack of timber abolished the old worm style split- 
rail fence, leaving nothing in its place to restrain wild cattle until 
the emergence of barbed wire. The replacement of tree lands by 
grass lands made the horse a paramount factor, an American ship 
of the steppes, and involved the change from the long rifle to the 
Colt six-shooter for rapid-fire work against galloping Indians. The 
scarcity of water led to dry-farming, ranching instead of agriculture, 
irrigation, wind mills, and fantastic attempts at rain making. It 
also changed the English common law of waters to the doctrine of 
prior appropriation. 

Oklahoma lacks some of the variety of the Texas landscape. 
Of all the southern states it alone lacks navigable waters. Its area 
is mainly plains and prairies, and it is the most wind blown state 
in the Union. Southeastern Oklahoma is a part of the Southern 
Ozarks centering in Arkansas. To the West are the Eastern Okla- 
homa Prairies which with the Red Prairies make up most of the 
state. A small strip of Cross Timbers, a few sand hills along west- 
ern rivers, some broken and eroded plains, and a touch of the 
Staked Plains complete the physical regions of this latest arrival 
in the Cotton Kingdom. 

According to some analyses Arkansas and Louisiana are taken 
with Oklahoma and Texas to make up the section called the South- 
west. In most respects, however, these easterly neighbors lack the 
distinctive aspects of Oklahoma and Texas. They have been set- 
tled longer and have thus long since passed through certain stages 
of the frontier and open range. Neither state touches on the Great 
Plains and thus they have always been more southern than western 
both in geography and culture. The eastern fringes of the two 
states and all of the New Orleans district belong with the Delta. 
Northern Arkansas belongs with the Ozarks. While Southern 
Louisiana possesses an enviable part of the port business of the 
Gulf, Arkansas takes rank along with Mississippi as the least indus- 

* The Great Plains, p. 9. 


trialized of the southern states. In their industries based on oil 
and natural gas the two states most resemble the Southwest, and 
the industry will be discussed in that connection. Ranching and the 
oil industry, together with the new type of cotton culture, make up 
the distinctive economic background of the Southwest. 


The transition from the frontier to the ranch offers the open 
sesame to much of the development of the Southwest. As long as 
it clung to the wooded valley slopes of the Eastern Coast the fron- 
tier remained a comparatively narrow belt. The frontier changed 
its ecology when it debouched from its wooded slopes upon the 
plains at the second tier of states beyond the Mississippi-Ohio sys- 
tem. Within a decade after the Civil War, as E. E. Dale has pointed 
out, the frontier expanded until it equalled the area of the agricul- 
tural region east of the Mississippi. 5 From this river to the Rockies 
and beyond stretched a new ranching area. Never had the Ameri- 
can frontier loomed spatially so large. 

The fundamental fact of geography is that the frontier here 
met grass lands rather than forests. Amid the tall grasses of the 
prairie and the short grasses of the plains it assumed a pastoral 
rather than a wilderness structure. The eastern squatters, estab- 
lishing cowpens in the canebrakes or holding cornfield clearings 
against the encroaching wilderness, lived on a small scale. The 
herder, not the hunter, blazed the trail of the plains frontier. The 
sudden expansion of the fringe when it reached the region was 
simply the metamorphosis of the squatter into the rider of the open 
range. What has been called the problem of the "penetrability of 
the forest" no longer existed and the mode of life became a function 
of magnificent distances. For the hunted animals of the brush 
were substituted the domesticated animals of native pastures. The 
buffalo, the prairie fire, the less abundant rainfall and its seasonal 
distribution had stimulated the growth of grasses at the expense 
of forests. It only remained for the frontiersmen to take to horse. 

The conquest of the plains by the frontier waited on the de- 
struction of the region's equilibrium of native plants and animals. 
The extermination of the buffalo, completed for the southern herd 

'"History of the Ranch Cattle Industry in Oklahoma," American Historical 
Association, Report, 1920, p. 307. 


by 1875 and the northern herd by 1884, opened the way for the ex- 
pansion of the open range. With the passing of free game the 
nomadism of the Plains Indian was at an end. It was thereafter 
a comparatively easy task for the government to hold the tribes 
herded on reservations and feed them on contractor's beef. With 
the Indian and the buffalo gone, the advancing emigrants substi- 
tuted a pastoral for a hunting economy. In the place of the buffalo 
came the Longhorn, and for the buffalo hunt was substituted 
the round-up. The adobe hut in the limitless expanses took the 
place of the log hut in the clearing. 

In Texas, the South met the West against a background of 
Spanish culture which was to lend color to the whole pastoral econ- 
omy. Both the cattle and the ranch were a heritage from Spain 
and the Mexicans. Together they diverted what began as an ad- 
vance of the Cotton Kingdom upon new plantations to an exten- 
sion of the ranching frontier. Texas became the reservoir of cattle 
for the whole west. Early cleared of Indians, it possessed the stock 
brought in by the Spaniards as early as Coronado in 1540. Later 
in the seventeenth century Father King had introduced a form of 
ranching into Arizona with the labor performed by the Indians 
around his mission. Many horses and cattle escaped and bred wild, 
so that Louis St. Dennis in 1714 found cattle in abundance in parts 
of Texas. These small, half wild Spanish beasts which gave little 
milk and did not fatten well, were hardy and hustling. They were 
thus well-adapted to the range and were to leave as their de- 
scendants the Texas Longhorns, for a while the undisputed bovine 
masters of the plains.* 3 

The western cowboy is a cultural descendant of the South Ameri- 
can gaucho and the Mexican vaquero. For two centuries before our 
West the lasso and the branding iron had been the tools of the 
vaquero 's trade on Mexican haciendas. When Austin framed a civil 
and criminal code for his American settlers, his Spanish political 
chief added only two articles. The first regulated the disposal of 
stray cattle, and the second provided for registering cattle brands. 
This action serves to show that ranching, already in Mexican 
economy, had not yet entered that of the American settlers. 7 In 

8 See Clara M. Love, "Cattle Industry of the Southwest," Southwestern Historical 
Quarterly, XIX, 370-99. 

7 Louis J. Wortham, A History of Texas From Wilderness to Commonwealth, V, 


the hundred mile strip between the Nueces and the Rio Grande 
the cattle business developed. Until Texas established her au- 
thority here at the close of the Mexican War the area remained a 
kind of no man's land where wild cattle multiplied to the point 
of saturation. James M. Cook in his Fifty Years on the Old Frontier 
tells of what it meant to capture those wild cattle. Here also de- 
veloped the area of the first big cattle ranches, and in driving, rop- 
ing, herding, and corralling these feral beasts the American cowboy 
learned his trade from the vaquero? 

At the time of annexation there existed no market for beef, and 
from the meagre trade in hides no one could have predicted the 
palmy days of ranching. So cheap was beef that the folkways of the 
range allowed a hungry wayfarer to kill a beef for his sustenance pro- 
vided he turned the hide over to its owner. The Civil War left 
Texas the least injured of all the southern states. Cattle had in- 
creased rapidly, and the Texas soldier returned to find his cattle 
grown fat and numerous but with no market. At Christmas 1865, 
however, the Union Stockyards of Chicago opened for business. 9 
The event which passed unnoticed on the plains was to open for 
Texas the era of the free range. 

The interval between the passing of the Indian and the coming 
of legal private owners of the land was the era of the open range, 
"the golden age of the old time cattleman." 10 For an all too brief 
period there existed more grass than cattle, a period in which it was 
not necessary to own land to be a cattle king. Grass rights, range 
rights, water rights on a free prairie were unwritten laws with 
owners far away. Live and let-live policies prevailed. Ill-feeling, 
threats, bluffs, and fights were of small avail in keeping newcomers 
from crowding on the range. In an area of great expanses it was 
impossible to assert claims of ownership as the following story from 
California shows: 

A man who came to the state with some cattle bought a large stock 
ranch. Other cattle ranged over it and he was helpless. He found that 
the cost was too great to fence it, and told his story thus: So, I just found 
a purchaser for my land, sold it to him and then purchased more cattle 
with the money I had thus obtained, and left my cattle to roam wherever 

*lbid., V, 141-42. 

9 Ibid., V, 157. 

10 H. Y. Benedict and John A. Lomax, The Boo{ of Texas, pp. 166-88. 


they pleased; and my whole herd continued, despite my purchaser's 
efforts, to roam just as much on this very land as they did whilst I 
owned it. 11 

Texas early worked out that unique adaptation of free land to 
private property in cattle which the movies and wild west thrillers 
have made known around the world. "The range," says an eco- 
nomic historian, "applies to the raising and fattening of cattle 
upon public lands or unfenced lands, generally where the herds of 
different proprietors are free to range and intermingle; whereas 
the ranch cattle business is carried on within the enclosure belong- 
ing to cattlemen on which their own cattle graze." 12 The land on 
which a cow was found offered no indication as to whom that 
cow belonged. Accordingly, property in brands as distinguishing 
marks on cattle came to be recognized by the ranching community, 
and these marks were registered in semi-official brand books. 

The frontiersmen's method of organization arose. The Texas 
Cattle Raisers' Association, for example, turned back 80,000 head 
of stolen cattle and prevented the theft of thousands of others. 
The round-up, held for the purpose of branding the young calves 
each spring, thus had to be a joint affair. Everybody helped, and in 
the spring each outfit sent out its chuck wagon accompanied by a 
cook and five to thirty cow hands, with five or ten times as many 
horses. Each outfit aided in the process of "cutting out the stock" 
and then branded its own calves. In cutting out the stock they 
sorted cattle into smaller herds by brands, and thus each outfit 
shunted cattle nearer their home ranch. "A cow was often passed 
from round-up to round-up without her owner ever seeing her un- 
til she reached the home corral." If left unbranded, a calf became a 
"maverick," so named after a lawyer who neglected a herd he had ac- 
cepted in payment of debt. The law of the range gave the maverick 
to whatever stockmen put a brand upon him. Thence grew cattle 
"rustling," which began as search for unherded cattle and became 
the clever changing of marks and the branding of the other stock- 
growers' unweaned calves. "Your calves don't suck the right cows" 
was the frontier preacher's call to repentance which every old Texan 

u Transactions, California Agricultural Society, 1861, p. 153. Quoted by Love, 
op. cit., pp. 376-77. 

"Isaac Lippincott, Economic Development of the United States, p. 401. 


Gold in California made one market for the live stock industry. 
The rise of Chicago as a meat packing center after the Civil War 
opened a greater. No longer could it be said in Texas that a man's 
poverty was measured by the number of cattle he owned. The 
number of cattle doubled almost every decade. As early as 1866 
began the great drives to reach the nearest shipping points of the 
railroads creeping westward. It is estimated that in all five to six 
million head were driven north. Many herds went to the high 
plains and the fresh grasses of Montana and Wyoming so that 
Texas became known as the breeding ground and Montana the 
feeding ground. As the railroad came nearer, the trail for the long 
drives shortened, and the characteristic western cow towns, points 
of cattle shipment, saw their boom periods follow each other in 
rapid succession. Free grass and open markets had invited so many 
investors that prices reached $20 per head, range delivery. Men 
had seen great herds grow from small beginnings and had made 
money even when forced to borrow at extortionate rates. 

The end of the open range was sudden and dramatic. The 
day of the stock ranch was ushered in by the invention of a "gadget" 
in the shape of barbed wire. The range had been overstocked so 
that grass was exhausted and destroyed, eaten and trampled under- 
foot before it could reseed. In 1886 came the year of the "great 
dies," and drought and hard winten followed. The panic of 1893 
knocked the bottom out of cattle prices. Land began to assume 
value, provided it could be fenced from over-abundant cattle. The 
answer was at hand. John W. Gates, hardware salesman to an em- 
pire as it proved, had demonstrated barbed wire on the Alamo Plaza 
in San Antonio in 1875. Ranchers and cowmen who came to laugh 
at what Texas steers would do to a few strands of wire grew sober 
when the barbs held in the herds. They bought miles of it. The 
country was rapidly fenced, although posts had to be hauled in 
many instances as much as 200 miles. The wire was cheap, required 
but few posts, and held the herds. It made for conservation, for 
there no longer existed the race "to get grass while it lasted." Men 
were ruined in the transition as the land owner came into his own. 
Fences moved steadily across the open prairie, an unthinkable thing 
to many. The so-called "fence cutters' wars" ensued. The short 
struggle over the open range was succeeded by private control. 


This revolution was officially dated when the Texas legislature 
met in special session in 1884 and made it a penitentiary offense to 
cut a wire fence. For the convenience of travelers it was decreed 
that a gate must be provided for every three miles. For a while 
in Texas the possesion of a pair of wire clippers cast more odium 
upon a man than the; possession of a sixshooter ever had. "Next 
to the introduction of railroads," said Governor Roberts of Texas, 
"barbed wire has done most to develop the agricultural and pastoral 
pursuits of the state.'* Thus ownership of cattle and the land on 
which cattle grazed came to coalesce: A steer came to be marked 
by the place he stayed rather than by the brand he wore, and the 
days of the cowboy and the round-up receded. 

Ranching in the Southwest is by no means a heritage of the 
past. Only 18 per cent of Texas' broad domain of 168,000,000 acres 
is under cultivation, while almost three times as much of her area 
is devoted to grazing as to agriculture. Texas has 5,700,000 of the 
57,500,000 cattle in the United States and with Oklahoma possesses 
12.9 per cent of the nation's stock. The "Nursery of American 
Ranches," the brush region between the Nueces and the Rio Grande, 
is still a ranching area where Mexican vaqueros work the range to- 
day. 13 Great stretches of the coastal zone of post oak and piney 
woods are still grazed, while the Texas Panhandle south to the 
Texas and Pacific Railway is notable for its ranch holdings. While it 
is true that the world's largest ranch, the XIT, has been broken up, 
the day of large holdings has not passed. The land for this great 
ranch was deeded to a contracting company by the state in payment 
for the construction of the state capitol at Austin. One of the most 
efficiently managed, the XIT Ranch became popularly known as 
the Ten Counties in Texas. Its history has been recently written 
and adds a valuable page to the story of the development of the 
Panhandle. 14 The King Ranch, however, still contains 1,000,000 
acres while the Bill Jones Holdings aggregate 500,000 acres. 

The old range conditions, however, have become a thing of the 
past. With the passing of the Longhorn, Texas cattle now cost 
"real money" and it takes capital to" run a ranch. The great reduc- 
tion in the number of cattle since 1890 has been accompanied by an 
improvement in quality. Recently the owner of a 250,000 acre ranch 

"See J. Frank Dobie, "Ranch Mexicans," Survey Graphic, XIX, 167-70. 
14 J. E. Haley, The XIT Ranch of Texas. 


paid $43,500 for 174 registered Hereford bulls. While the West 
has graded up with Herefords and Shorthorns, districts near east- 
ern cities have turned to dairying with Jerseys and Guernseys. A 
ton of cotton seed costs less than a steer, and will serve to keep 
twelve alive during a hard winter. 

The cowboy is a changed man, for now he gives attention to 
petty details his predecessors would have scorned. He must work 
on foot, build fences and tanks, repair windmills, and even cultivate 
cattle feed. He is likely to be set the task of singeing the spines 
of! cactus with a gasoline torch whereby a patient worker may make 
feed available for twenty cattle. When they "work cattle," how- 
ever, the cowboys resume their seats in the saddle. Life for the 
stock hand on the isolated ranch is likely to be one of stark sim- 
plicity. The American who wants a Ford tends to leave his tasks 
to the Mexican more satisfied with things of the soil. The pay of 
the cowboy is from $30 to f6o a month with room and "grub" fur- 
nished. If he boards himself he will receive f 10 more. The Mex- 
ican cowhand draws $20 to $30 a month, the cook draws about $5 
more than a regular hand, while a horse breaker receives a bonus 
on his work. 15 

The cowman, it is known, has regarded the aridity of West 
Texas as his greatest ally against the encroaching farmer. It is 
likely that ranching, however, will continue for a long time to 
hold a prominent place in Southwestern economy. There still re- 
main a few old cattle kings who can look back and say that a 
few heifers and an uncrowded country made them; but, while 
the range is gone, the ranch conducted on a business-like basis will 
continue to hold a place in our economy. After passing through a 
number of remarkable evolutions, the ranch is prepared, no doubt, 
to settle down as a permanent agricultural enterprise. 


It is hardly necessary to recall that Texas was settled by farmers 
who meant to carve out a new agricultural domain. Grass lands 
made their appeal to farmers no less than stockmen. Katherine 
Coman writes : 

The settler from the east of the Mississippi accustomed to the exhausting 
labor of clearing the forests before plowing could begin, who had often 

15 Dobie, loc. cit. 


seen the better part of man's life spent in reclaiming a few patches of 
cornfields which still remained encumbered by stumps and infected with 
malaria, rejoiced in the sunny open prairies where the soil seemed pre- 
pared by nature for the farmers' use. 16 

Texas' first crop was produced by Stephen F. Austin's colonists 
in 1822 a corn crop grown by the most primitive methods, which, 
except in the river bottoms, was nearly ruined by drought. Jared 
Groce established the state's first cotton plantation cultivated by 
slaves, and in 1825 set up Texas' first cotton gin on the banks of 
the Brazos. In 1833 Austin reported to the Mexican government 
30 gins and a year's crop of 7,500 bales of cotton. The first cotton 
was exported across the Rio to Mexico on the backs of mules in 
bales of 150 pounds, two bales to the mule. In 1832 shipments were 
begun by water to New Orleans. 17 After statehood in 1845, the 
great influx of population made of Eastern Texas a new cotton 
belt by the outbreak of the Civil War. 

The history of the farmers' advance on Oklahoma is illuminat- 
ing. The advancing horde, for example, took the Cherokee strip 
of Oklahoma not from the Indians but from the ranchmen. The 
five civilized tribes did not till their lands; they rented them to 
stockmen and lived on the proceeds. Oklahoma thus offers a sig- 
nificant case of a sudden and complete change from a ranching to 
an agricultural economy effected through legislation and administra- 
tion. E. E. Dale, in his "History of the Ranch Cattle Industry in 
Oklahoma," already cited, points out that Oklahoma had long stood 
'as an island of sparsely settled land in the midst of the crowding 
)surge of settlers which had advanced steadily westward on either 
side. Newspapers were established on its borders to "boom" Okla- 
homa and abuse the cattlemen. Efforts were made to settle the area 
in spite of the law. The Bureau of Indian Affairs had adopted the 
complaisant policy of neither allowing nor forbidding grazing leases 
from Indians to settlers. Accordingly in 1883, to stop irregular 
grazing, the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association leased that 
area from the Cherokees for five years at $100,000 a year. Chartered 
under the laws of Kansas for the protection of the industry, this 
was the largest organization of its kind in the world. In the ab- 
sence of laws, it protected property, held courts of arbitration, de- 

16 Economic Beginnings of the Far West, II, 103. 
"Wortham, op. cit., V, 118-19. 


cided both boundaries and precedents of cow custom. In the course 
of its life it held 300,000 cattle in the Cherokee strip, dealt justly 
with the Indians, and saw that no cattle owners grazed stock on 
their lands without paying fees. Forced by the relentless pressure 
of settlement, the government tried to buy the strip for the farmers 
but failed because the stockmen's lease paid the Cherokees more 
than the government offered . The government then invalidated 
the lease, drove the stockmen out, and after three years forced the 
Indians to accept $1.40 an acre in lieu of the $5.00 offered by the 
cattle syndicate. 

In a struggle in which the Indians were helpless bystanders, the 
government opened the area to homestead, and thus by legal fiat 
replaced ranchmen by farmers. Populism in the Southwest owes 
much of its origin to a dislike of ranches. Ranchmen were regarded 
as wealthy monopolists, and a tradition of cattlemen as selfish, 
brutal, and domineering persisted. The industry disappeared in 
Oklahoma before it had a chance to live its reputation down. To 
this frontier struggle may be charged much of the political rad- 
icalism of the Southwest. An early Texas law forbade banks in the 
state. Oklahoma, it is noteworthy, placed more ordinary statute 
law in her constitution than any other state. The purpose of much 
of this law was to guarantee the status quo to the small farmer. 
Moreover, the state has acquired the tradition of impeaching its 
governors, because of mere impatience. The state finds it easy to 
impeach any governor it doesn't like, having developed a system of 
dismissing for incompetency rather than moral turpitude. 

In most of the Southwest the replacement of ranching by home- 
steads was no less sure because it had more sobriety. It is difficult 
to realize that agriculture is hardly over sixty years old in most of 
Texas nor over thirty in Oklahoma. Many of the agricultural 
areas in the Southwest; are, of course, much younger. With only 
1 8 per cent of its immense area under cultivation, Texas has twice 
produced crops valued over one billion dollars. Texas was added 
to the list of United States cotton states by annexation in 1845 and 
by 1859 and 1869 it came to rank fifth in production. In 1890 the 
state assumed the leading position which it has since retained. 
Oklahoma was first opened to settlement in 1889 and made a state 
in 1907. The trans-Mississippi states first passed the cotton produc- 
tion of the eastern belt in 1920, due to the large increase in the 


acreage of the Southwest. Here then is the frontier of the cotton 
belt with its lands undepleted of fertility either by the continuous 
cropping or the leaching rains of the Southeast. The cotton fibre 
grows longer and stronger here than anywhere else except in the 
Delta. Texas now grows from 30 to 40 per cent of the nation's 
cotton supply, and half her population of 5,850,000 depends directly 
or indirectly on the crop for its livelihood. 18 

The east and the west here present strongly contrasted modes 
of cotton culture. Backed by similar physical conditions and a 
history of earlier settlement, eastern Texas has duplicated many 
of the conditions associated with the older South. If the Interior 
Coastal Plain resembles the Atlantic Coastal Plain, in some re- 
spects the Texas Black Waxy tends to duplicate conditions of other 
black land belts. Lacking the historical background of the planta- 
tion, the fertile black prairies have, by a rapid infiltration of un- 
propertied whites, reached a high percentage of tenancy. From 
1890 to 1925 Texas increased her ratios of farm tenancy from 35.2 
to 60.1 per cent. Starting at 0.7 per cent tenancy in 1890, Okla- 
homa's proportion of farm tenants increased from 43.8 per cent 
in 1900 to 58.6 in 1925. In the Interior Coastal Plain in 1910 one 
third of the improved land was in cotton and one half of the farms 
were operated by owners. In the Black Waxy 86 per cent of the 
land was in farms, 62 per cent improved, and 31.6 per cent planted 
to cotton. It was found that 55.7 per cent of the farms were run 
by white tenants and that 14.5 per cent were in plantations. In 
1920 the percentage of Negro farmers in this belt was still as low 
as 15.9. 

J. T. Sanders' study, made in 1919, of 368 farmers in six counties 
of the Black Waxy serves to show how socio-economic conditions 
approximate those of old cotton zones. 19 He found the total cost 
of family living for the year was $965 for share croppers, $1,243 f r 
share tenants, and $1,742 for farm owners. The average size of 
families for the different groups was found to be about the same, so 
that the living cost of a cropper family can be estimated at 55 per 
cent and the average share tenant's living at 71 per cent of that of 
the owners'. Of all living expenses croppers average $262 fur- 

M Ruel MacDonald, "Texas, An Empire State," Current History, XXXIV, 165-69. 
19 J. T. Sanders, "Farm Ownership and Tenancy in the Black Prairie of Texas," 
U. S. D. A., Bulletin 1068, 1922; Vance, op. cit., pp. 231-33. 


nished from the farm, share tenants $424, and owners $575. Thus 
with much lower money incomes, croppers receive only 41 per cent 
and share tenants 75 per cent as much family living from the farm 
as owners. Croppers buy the most groceries, $310, to $296 for ten- 
ants and $294 for owners. 

The average amount spent for recreation, education, and ad- 
vancement goods is strikingly small for all classes. Ten to fifteen 
dollars per family is spent for recreation. Few families of any 
tenure take vacations, and but few more patronize movies or the- 
atres. About twice as much is spent for tobacco and similar per- 
sonal expenses as for recreation. About one out of six croppers own 
cars, one out of two tenants, and three out of four owners. 
About one out of five croppers, half the tenants, and six out of seven 
owners have telephones. All owners read periodicals and daily 
papers, but 39 per cent of the croppers reported no periodicals 

In school it was found that "the tenant's child is from six months 
to a year behind the pwner's child in grade attainments." Ninety- 
six per cent of owner's daughters were promoted for the school 
year to 77.2 per cent of tenants' daughters, and 88.6 per cent of 
owners' sons to only 65.6 per cent of tenants' sons. The enroll- 
ment for cotton tenants' children always ranks lower than for any 
other group. This enrollment reaches its lowest stage during cotton 
picking time in October, November, and December. It "is due to 
the fact that tenants as a rule feel they cannot afford to hire their 
cotton picked and to the fact that the landlords expect and some- 
times demand that renters' children be put into the cotton fields in 
order to rush picking as much as possible." The frequent moving of 
tenants also serves to cut down school enrollment. Such a study as 
this shows that eastern Texas has gone the full cycle and duplicates 
in almost every social detail the old cotton economy of the Southeast. 

Not so of the West. In their Great Plain areas, Texas and 
Oklahoma have furnished the nation's newest and most rapidly 
expanding cotton areas areas that promise a definite break with 
the South's traditional practices. Under the impression that the 
high, level, and semi-arid stretches of the Staked Plains would never 
be available for crops, stock raisers acquired the great ranches com- 
prising thousands of acres. Though by 1885 it was realized that 
crops could be grown in the region, cotton was not seriously con- 


sidered as late as 1910. The introduction of an adequate agriculture 
waited upon a substitute for corn which could not stand the dry 
hot weather. When this was found in the cultivation of kaffir 
corn, milo maize, and sudan grass the small farmer began to push 
his way into the midst of the ranching economy. Between 1919 
and 1924 a million acres were added to cultivation, and by 1925 the 
decline of live stock values had conspired with rising prices for farm 
land practically to complete the removal of cattle raising from the 
region. 20 Moreover, "when once new land is plowed and put in 
cultivated crops, it rarely is used again for grazing as it does not 
become reset in the native grasses satisfactorily for many years." 21 
Thus the land is kept in cotton or a competing crop. 

From 1919 to 1926 Texas increased her cotton acreage from 
something over ten million to over eighteen million and her pro- 
duction from three million to almost six million bales. During the 
same period Oklahoma's acreage rose from approximately two and 
a half million to over four and a half, while her production in- 
creased from one to one and a half million bales. A section which 
possessed not a single mile of railroads before 1886 is now Texas' 
greatest cotton producing area. A Panhandle county such as Hale 
which in 1919 possessed not a single cotton gin, in 1930 operated 
twenty. From 1920 to 1930 the center of cotton production in Okla- 
homa shifted 125 miles to westward. During the same period the 
number of farms in southeast Oklahoma decreased by n per cent 
while the number in the southwest increased 27 per cent. 22 This 
expansion has occurred at a period when abandonment of cotton 
farms was going on rather rapidly in the easterly Gulf states and 
along the South Atlantic Coast. As to the future, it is estimated 
that in the Staked Plains as a whole over fifteen millions of acres 
in Texas and four and a half in New Mexico may be used for crops. 
With favorable market conditions it is likely that from 18 to 20 per 
cent of the region would be devoted to cotton, giving about 3,200,000 
new acres. 

The advantages of cotton culture in this area are based firmly 

90 E. O. Wooten, "Cotton in the Texas Plain Area," U. S. D. A. Yearboo^, 1926, 
pp. 271-74. 

21 D. W. Watkins, "A Study of Cotton Growing in Texas Showing Influence on 
Cotton Production in South Carolina," Clemson College, Bulletin 75, p. 5. 

29 P. H. Stevens, "Mechanization of Cotton Farms," Journal of Farm Economics, 
Jan. 1931, pp. 27-31. 


upon its geography. High altitude and a dry climate have so far 
kept the boll weevil in check and the necessity of continuously 
forcing cultivation ahead of insect depredation is not felt. This 
advantage is further aided by the absence of troublesome weeds 
which have gained foothold in the older cotton belt. Moreover, 
"the land above cap rock is generally level and gently rolling and 
the tillable soils are mostly light and easily worked when properly 
moist; hence cultivation of large fields with large equipment is 
easy. These new soils are now fertile; hence the application of ferti- 
lizers is not necessary at present and it is possible that on some of 
them it never will be." 23 

Level topography facilitates the riding-machine type of cultiva- 
tion on large fields. Tractors are used more extensively than else- 
where in cotton. A farmer riding a two-row lister with a six-mule 
team and a set of fenders, knives, disks, and points can plow and 
plant the land at one operation. The average investment per farm in 
the new southwestern areas in 1929-30 was $50,000 more than ten 
times as great as in the older cotton areas of southeastern Oklahoma. 
Under climatic influence the plants tend to ripen at about the 
same time. Thus there has grown up the mechanized method of 
picking called "sledding." These sleds are dragged down the 
rows gathering the fruited fibers along with some unopened bolls. 
A study made in 1926 of 26 farmers who used the cotton sled shows 
that a man and two horses harvested an average of 4.4 acres or 
1.8 bales a day at a cost of $2.78 a bale. 24 In the same area the cost 
for hand picking ranged from $12 to $15 a bale. Improvements in 
ginning, especially the boll extractor, have made it possible to proc- 
ess sledded cotton profitably. These improved gins return remark- 
ably clean bales from sledded cotton. So much less labor is required 
of men and animals in the western plains that one farmer may cul- 
tivate a hundred acres in cotton. 

In this new western belt farmers can produce cotton at a profit 
while eastern growers are selling below the cost of production. Fer- 
tile soil, low weevil damage, and mechanization place in constant 
jeopardy any economy based on twenty acres and a mule. The one 
supreme danger in the area is the recurring threat of drought. 

23 Wooten, op. '/., p. 272. 

24 L. P. Gabbard and F. R. Jones, "Large Scale Cotton Production in Texas," 
Bulletin 302, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. 


The extent to which farmers realize profits in this transplanted econ- 
omy is shown by studies made by the Department of Agriculture in 
Lubbock County, Texas, for 1924. The average net income per farm 
received for its operation by the family for the year, after paying all 
interest on borrowed capital (and including that part of the family living 
furnished directly by the farm as a part of the farm receipts) was, for 
139 farms, over $3,000. Ten men lost money, 10 per cent made less than 
$1,000 but 13.5 per cent made over $5,000 and the remainder made be- 
tween $ 1,000 and $5,000. These incomes were obtained on farms 
averaging 232 acres in size valued at $68 per acre with 37.6 per cent of 
the land in harvested cotton having a yield of 148 pounds of lint, selling 
at an average price of about 20 cents per pound. The average net worth 
of these farmers when they settled in the region was just over $5,000 per 
man and on March i, 1925 the corresponding figure was $18,000, the 
difference having been made by the operation of the farm and its own 
increase in value in an average period of 5.84 years. 25 

The conditions in this county are typical of about eight others in 
the west Texas Plains. 

Mechanization has combined with the expanse of new lands 
to place southwestern farming on a larger scale. To a southern 
average of 103.9 acres and a national average of 145.1, Oklahoma 
opposes an average farm of 156.7 acres while Texas reaches 235.5 
acres. Some of the excess can be accounted for by the fact that the 
census does not segregate farms and ranches in its returns. Never- 
theless, in the same year, 1925, the number of acres in crops av- 
eraged 63.8 and 80.3 for Texas and Oklahoma respectively com- 
pared to 38.7 and 61.4 averages for the South and nation. In val- 
ues of the average farm, Oklahoma and Texas exceed the av- 
erage for thirteen southern states by $2,586 and $3,286, 62.3 and 
79.3 per cent. In total gross income per farm during the period 
from 1924 through 1928, Texas exceeded the South's average by 
$564, Oklahoma by $513, 44.8 and 40.7 per cent respectively. The 
Southwest with its departing ranches bids fair to return to cotton 
farming the expansiveness it lost through tenancy. 


Smaller in expanse but equally startling in its development is 
the Southwest's rival to Florida, the lower Rio Grande Valley. 

^Wooten, op. cit., p. 274. 


This valley lies between the Balcones Escarpment, the Uplands 
of Mexico, the Cotton Belt, and the sea. The climate is tropical 
and the scanty rainfall is reflected in a vegetation of brush, bunch 
grass, cactus, mesquite, and chaparral. The area's main use had 
been in grazing and as late as 1912 the valley possessed no more 
than a handful of American farmers. J. Russell Smith well says 
the Rio Grande is the Nile for this Egypt since with irrigation 
the zone can equal Florida for truck or the Delta for cotton. 26 

Irrigation has served to transform a combination of tropical 
jungle and semi-arid desert into a market garden area. As early 
as 1920 the combination of irrigation, new railroads, and land 
speculation brought the zone a typical land boom. On the whole, 
however, the valley has settled down to progressive development 
with some 150,000 inhabitants living in irrigation districts, dry 
farming areas, or in small thriving towns. The sub-division of 
old ranches, the removal of thorn bush vegetation, and the im- 
provement of irrigation have proceeded apace. 27 Vegetables 
grown during the mild winter reach the early markets for the 
season's highest prices. The amount of vegetables shipped in- 
creased from 2,000 carloads in 1912 to 17,100 in 1928. The ex- 
tensive plantings of citrus fruits are beginning to bear. In 1928, 
1,183 cars f citrus fruits were shipped. In 1930 a total shipment 
of 29,000 carloads of vegetables and fruits left the valley. It is 
estimated that in 1930 there were 60,000 acres in the valley planted 
to citrus fruits. 

The valley faces all the hazards of a trucking district plus 
those peculiar to irrigation areas. To guard against market gluts 
and limited demand the region will doubtless find it necessary, in 
Smith's opinion, to grow staples as well as specialties. The prin- 
cipal reasons for such failures as have occurred in the irrigated 
districts have been laid to "over-exploitation and lack of operating 
funds, want of experience in irrigation and tropical farming, poor 
management, lack of marketing organizations, high freight rates, 
the want of soil surveys and the failure to determine the crops best 
adapted to the various types of soil, the high cost of water, and 
under some of the irrigation systems the uncertainty of water 

88 North America, pp. 432-35. 

27 See William T. Chambers, "Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas," Economic 
Geography, VI, 364-73. 


supply." 28 Drainage of low lands to prevent rise of the water 
table and the accumulation of alkali salts deposited by the irriga- 
tion water also present problems. The region was so faced with 
flood dangers, that three counties had their state taxes remitted 
for 25 years that they might be applied to flood control. A sys- 
tem of levees and floodways was accordingly completed in 1928. 
The valley in spite of these difficulties comprises a prosperous, pro- 
gressive section with promise of continued growth. 


With the exception of comparatively isolated industrial develop- 
ment in Tennessee centers and New Orleans, the Southwest offers 
the first consistent break with an uninterrupted agricultural econ- 
omy since the Piedmont. Texas with the lowest density of any south- 
ern state, 21.9 persons per square mile, ranks among the most 
highly urbanized with 41 per cent urban. Texas' billion dollar 
crops are exceeded by her manufactured products valued at $1,200,- 
000,000 in 1930, while Oklahoma has on occasion been able to 
rank eighth in agricultural and second in mineral production. 
Oklahoma is well supplied with reserves of coal, lead, and zinc, 
having led the nation in zinc production for the last decade. More- 
over, the Texas Gulf Port area takes precedence in its exports of 
all the nation's shipping areas except the New York Port zone. 
Twenty-two per cent of the nation's mineral wealth comes from 
the South and three fifths of that production is found in fuels, 
coal and oil, the South's most exploited mineral wealth. It is 
her oil resources which furnish the basis of the emerging indus- 
trialism of the Southwest. 

In the process of prospecting for oil were discovered a series 
of sulphur domes stretching along the southwest gulf coast from 
the mouth of the Mississippi to the mouth of the Rio Grande. 
While the geology of the area .is favorable and the number of 
domes is large, only some five have yet proved of commercial value. 
Each dome consists of a salt core overlaid by porous cap rock 
through which the sulphur is distributed as seams, cavity fillings, 
impregnations, and disseminations. In depth these formations 

88 "Irrigation Development in the Lower Rio Grande Valley," Department of 
Interior, 1923. Cited by Smith, op. cit., p. 434. 


may vary from 300 to 1,200 feet, in thickness fromi a few! feet to 
2 5 o. 29 

The almost unlimited deposits of the gulf coast offered no 
competition to Sicily's monopoly of the world sulphur supply un- 
til the development of the Frasch Method. After having worked 
out a method of forcing up molten sulphur by piping super-heated 
steam underground, Herman Frasch formed in 1896 the Union 
Sulphur Company. Following a trade war in which the Sicilian 
product was practically forced out of the market by 1907, Frasch's 
concern came to supply practically all the nation's sulphur until 
war demands depleted the Louisiana deposits. Two Texas firms, 
working deposits estimate^ adequate for years to come, now 
supply over 95 per cent of the world's demand. No method of 
open cut or underground mining has proved as cheap as the 
Frasch process of extracting sulphur from 900 to 1,200 feet below 
the surface. By the use of this technique some 139 million long 
tons of sulphur valued at some 200 million dollars were extracted 
in 1929. Grading plants and refineries have been set up in the 
area; and the industry finds its greatest costs of production in fuel 
and piping. With the growing importance of sulphuric acid in 
the industrial arts, the region has proved to possess an essential 
resource. 30 


The industrial and financial structure of the modern Southwest 
finds its most authentic interpretation in the human geography 
of oil. Oil, like the precious metals, has been a trail blazer on the 
map. Early in its history oil acquired the reputation of found 
wealth and easy money. However ill-deserved, this reputation 
has served to lead men on to new frontiers. The possibility of 
great returns from small investment has created the "wildcatter," 
who, corresponding to the prospector in mining, remains the 
hope and despair of the industry. If he discovers new resources 
for a waning industry, he also furnishes an ever-present threat of 
over-production. The production, distribution, and refining of 
oil early came under some measure of corporate control. The dis- 
covery of new supplies, however, remains pretty much an aflair 

29 Walter H. Voskuil, Minerals in Modern Society, pp. 314-15. 
80 H. T. Warshow (ed.), Representative Industries in the United States, pp. 


of untrammelled individual initiative. The driller of test wells 
is the scout of the industry, making its initial contacts with nature. 
While the great oil companies stand ready to buy crude from 
the paying wells, it thus results that both the gains and the losses 
of prospecting are absorbed outside the industry. Often but not 
always the men who bring in new wells remain pioneers on the out- 
side fringes of oildom while the industry's more settled habitues 
reap the great rewards. 

The geology of oil creates this situation and serves to make 
it unique among natural resources. A complex mixture of hun- 
dreds of hydro-carbon compounds has resulted from the age-long 
imprisonment of minute marine organisms in a rock pocket. Oil 
saturates layers of porous rocks and moves upward until stopped 
between strata of impervious rock. In this pocket of rock, va- 
riously called an anticline, a dome, or fault, is found the oil pool. 
The geology of petroleum is thus the geology of rock structure 
in an area once covered by the ocean. Oil, however, is not likely 
to be found in mountainous areas because fissures, faults, and 
deep erosion allow leakage, leaving only dry holes. From the 
surface contours the oil prospector's problem is to ascertain the 
depth, incline, structure, and type of rock strata, masked as they 
are by hundreds of surface changes from erosion and sedimenta- 
tion. Only as the results of drilling operations are recorded and 
accumulated can the geologist's surface findings be translated 
into three-dimensional knowledge. Such knowledge demands 
that logs be carefully recorded during drilling operations 
and transmitted to a central state Bureau of Mines or 
Geology where they are plotted on a peg model. This peg model 
is built to scale and serves as a three-dimensional diagram of 
the geology of an area. "As soon as a few wells have been driven 
in the given area the points on the various pegs where any given 
formation was encountered are connected by colored strings. In 
this manner the dip and strike of the series may be visualized 
and by the insertion of a peg at any given point the contact depth 
of any structure may be projected." 31 One of the wastes of the 
competitive system in oil is that such data are often kept secret 
and thus not made available to check the losses attendant upon 
useless drilling and prospecting. 

n Henry Mace Payne, Undeveloped Mineral Resources of the South, p. 74. 


Its physical-chemical characteristics combine with the geolog- 
ical environment to give oil its unique characteristics of liquidity 
and pressure. The imprisoned crude, mainly a heavy liquid, 
runs the gamut from solids to gases. The natural gas which oil 
contains in occlusion furnishes the tremendous pressure that forces 
out a gusher. When exposure to the air is followed by distilla- 
tion, the expelled gas is followed by the volatile gasoline, then by 
the more inert kerosene, next by the lubricating oils, leaving finally 
the solid base which may be either asphalt or paraffin. The high- 
est type paraffin bases are found in Pennsylvania while the Cal- 
ifornia oils are characteristically asphaltic. 

Pressure and liquidity make the mining of oil a task both easy 
and baffling. Once the reservoir is tapped an oil dome proceeds 
to drain itself. Beyond this important fact it cannot be said that 
oil fits well into man-made laws of economics. An outcropping 
mineral deposit may be followed down its incline and the re- 
source distributed in accordance with property lines drawn on its 
surface. Not so with oil. Oil is no man's property until it is 
drained off at the surface. American petroleum law is based on 
the English common law doctrine in regard to underground 
water: one must possess before one owns. The oil pool, however, 
is a geological unit and true to the law of liquids, a well on one 
lot may drain the oil resources under all neighboring tracts. This 
fact leads to competitive drilling and all the wastes of the indus^ 
try which no amount of technical improvement has been able to 

The customary exploitation of an oil pool by a series of small 
unrelated holdings has of necessity established the industry on 
the principle of robbery. The aim of each producer is to drain 
the largest possible underground area in the shortest length of 
time before the oil is secured by a competitor. 32 Wells are drilled 
along boundary lines and each producer drills an offset opposite his 
competitor's well. Law can compel a driller to sink offset wells 
as protection to his lessee. Competition operates to lessen the 
amount of oil recovered and to raise the unit cost of recovery. 
This means waste by duplication in drilling where two wells do 
the work of one. Gas pressure forces oil up, but, because of the 

82 George Ward Stocking, The Oil Industry, pp. 140-41. 


multitude of outlets, the gas pressure of an oil pool becomes ex- 
hausted long before the oil is recovered. It is estimated that from 
40 to 90 per cent of the oil in pools remains underground when 
the field is abandoned. Further wastes in competitive drilling 
are found in loss of gasoline, in natural gas permitted to escape, in 
the flooding of oil sands by salt water, and the guarding of tech- 
nical information. Of all natural resources oil seems to possess 
the greatest affinity for a monopolistic system of processing. 

Here again it is noteworthy that the liquid nature of oil has 
helped to give it the measure of industrial control and direction it 
has attained. Organization in oil, begun at the transportation 
and refining ends, has crept closer and closer towards the fields of 
production. The nature of oil accounts for its unique transporta- 
tion system, the pipe line. Pipe line mileage in the United States 
amounts to one eighth of that^ in railroads. As a matter of fact, 
the pipe line resembles nothing so much as a railroad system. 
It possesses its trunk lines, feeders, terminals, storage stations, 
switching systems, pumping stations, dispatchers, telegraphs and 
telephones by which the producing fields are linked with the re- 
fining centers. There were in 1932 operating in the United States 
some 100,000 miles of petroleum pipe lines. An investigation in 
1916 by the Federal Trade Commission of a part of the line for 
Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast showedi the cost of pipe line to be 
$6,389 a mile, of an average pumping station $126,810, and of 
telegraphs and telephones $312 a mile. 

The first pipe lines threatened to lead to monopoly control 
in oil by allowing the great companies who laid their own lines to 
refuse the oil of independent producers. Such a threatened con- 
trol of production through the means of transportation was 
blocked when the pipe lines were declared common carriers and 
thus forced to accept the oil of all producers on a pro rata basis. 
Accordingly the large companies have left it to the wildcatter to find 
new supplies, and the pipe lines have followed him wherever 
he has found producing fields. It is noteworthy that wells may 
come and go, but the producing fields such as the Gulf and the 
Mid-Continent in the Southwest area remain pretty much the 
same. Thus, pipe lines and refining centers are not forced to 
migrate across the map, but serve to build up stable and settled 


The uncertainty of occurrence, the possibility of quick returns, 
and the transitory nature of the petroleum industry have given a 
whole section an adventurous and speculative tinge. This is the 
geographic complex that has conditioned the Texas and Okla- 
homa of today regardless of the/ extent to which science and busi- 
ness organization may come to control in the future. To the aid 
of the geologist pointing the way to scientific prospecting has 
come the seismograph, the torsion balance, and the radio step-up. 
It is now possible to set off a charge of dynamite, observe the 
earth's tremors, and plot the geological structure. The president 
of one company has computed that only five per cent of the wells 
located at random prove profitable, as compared with 85 per cent 
located on the basis of careful geological surveys. The geologist 
is about to live down the names of "ridge runner," "mud smeller," 
"rock hound," and "pebble peddler," thrown at him by the in- 
dividualistic wildcatter. It cannot be said, however, that these im- 
provements in technology have brought the industry any nearer 
a solution of over-competition, waste, and fluctuating production. 
Science has in fact made more severe the problems faced by busi- 
ness organizations in this speculative industry. 

Oil has made for a mobile and dynamic industrial order in 
the Southwest. The petroleum sections have all the characteristics 
of a perpetual boom country. Poor men get rich and rich men 
go broke overnight. Social change is kaleidoscopic and the so- 
cial ladder becomes an express elevator. Viewing the scene in 
1922 Roderick Peattie remarked that many oil operators were ex- 
farmers, ex-bankers, and ex-roustabouts. The offices he found 
filled with men of action whose lined and sunburned faces told 
of lives in the open. They knew individual wells as they knew 
men and once having drilled and succeeded, they hoped to drill 
again. Every Oklahoma town, he felt, possessed its inhabitants 
who had struck it rich and retired to expensive homes to carry 
out their ideas of luxurious living. They may sit on front porches 
in stocking feet while their wives wear boudoir caps to town be- 
hind twelve cylinders, but they furnish the economic upper class 
of a new country. 33 

The drilling crews are organized for nomadism. To get men 
and materials to a new field ahead of time and competitors is the 

88 "Hunting Oil in Oklahoma," Atlantic Monthly, 129, pp. 630-41. 


object. Sidelines to the main show are the geologist and his in- 
strument man doing the prospecting, and behind him the "lease 
hound" who sees that his company gets proportionate acreage in 
any prospective field. Often the lease hound may operate on his 
own with the hope of reselling his leases to the operators. At the 
well, lowest on the ladder of promotion is the roustabout, a 
greasy laborer on a twelve hour shift. Next comes the tool dresser 
who tempers and sharpens the drills weighing hundreds of pounds. 
The autocrat of the derrick is the driller, the boss of the rig and 
its two crews. Then high enough to come into the white collar 
class is the scout whose business it is to keep posted on the drilling 
operations of his competitors as far as possible. Beyond one climbs 
in the rank of the executives, the vice presidents, and the main 

Such a natural landscape, in this case partly the invisible land- 
scape of geology, has given rise to the cultural landscape of the 
oil boom town. It is by a succession of booms that the Southwest 
has grown. Ten of Texas' towns and cities of 3,000 population 
and over listed by the 1930 Census did not exist in 1920. Twenty- 
nine others possessed much less than 3,000 population in 1920. 
Ellsworth Huntington has recounted the rise of a typical oil boom 

Some wildcat drillers brought in a well in the peaceful little township of 
Desdemona, Texas, where fifty to a hundred people were raising pigs ten 
miles from the railroad. There was no hotel, no telegraph line, and only 
poor excuses for roads. But crowds of people poured in, rents soared, 
wells were rapidly drilled, tanks and domes of earth were built to save 
the oil that poured out, pipe lines were laid down in a rush, stores were 
started in shacks. Soon the little hog-raising cross-roads had a thousand 
derricks; ten thousand people were living in tents and walking on plank 
walks; not enough of them had lived there six months to incorporate a 
town. Trucks were still crawling in with loads of pipe and machinery; 
nothing except the cemetery was sacred from the oil driller. Both the 
state and Federal governments have tried to prevent waste in such cases 
by a system of fines. But when people are making $12,000 for each 
$100 investment, as happened in one case, they do not care how much is 
wasted. In a Texas town 10,000 barrels per day were recently wasted. 

Such rapid development stimulates business. There is a demand for 
expensive machinery; the oil worker, the storekeeper, the extortionate 


jitney drivers, and every one else in the town must be supplied with food, 
shelter, and clothing. Money is so abundant that prices rise to astonish- 
ing levels. The people who make fortunes are so extravagant that auto- 
mobile makers say that such districts are among the best in the country 
for the sale of high priced cars. But the business stimulated by an oil 
boom as any other mining boom is not permanently valuable. It intro- 
duces wild speculation, a sudden demand along various lines and a 
sudden change in the supply along others. 34 

Another case will show how a boom town rose in the once 
peaceful solitude of the old cow country of the Panhandle. A. P. 
Borger, an oil operator of Cromwell, Oklahoma, founded in Feb- 
ruary, 1926, Borger, Texas, thirty miles from the railroad. The oil 
fields started off with gushers, and the town started off with a bang. 
Overnight, grew up a "rootin', tootin', rip roaring, snorting, hell- 
raising place" with a main street two miles long. Every building 
on that street was a one-storied shack, appropriately called an 
"ugly" in the boom country. In such a wilderness of hot dog 
stands, joints, chili parlours, rumbling trucks, and smelling oil 
tanks, men are thick and happy while women are few and mis- 
erable. Gradually the rush and the hangers-on dissipate, and the 
string of uglies changes into a new and respectable business dis- 
trict. Borger, reputed to have a population of 25,000 in 1927, 
settled down to respectability with 6,530 people by the 1930 Cen- 
sus. 35 

In some respects, however, the discovery of new oil pools in 
sparsely settled sections offers less of social incidence and change 
than the bringing in of gushers in settled territory. Oklahoma 
City found this out to her peril in the great discoveries of 1929 and 
1930. A half dozen terrific gushers blew in within dangerous 
distance of the state's capitol, and at one time seventy wells were 
drilling within the city limits. For sixty-six hours a gusher, Stout 
No. i, blew wild with from 60,000 to 100,000 barrels of oil and 
100,000,000 cubic feet of natural gas escaping every twenty-four 
hours. One eighth of the city was put under martial law, six 
schools closed, firemen and 200 state militia called, and all cook- 
ing fires and striking of matches forbidden. In spite of these 

84 In Davis, Barnes, et al, Introduction to the Study of Sociology, pp. 245-46. 

85 E. B. Garnett, "Oil is King in the Texas Panhandle," World's Wor\, LV, 


precautions the North Canadian River caught fire, burning sev- 
eral bridges, and 168 acres of vacant land were ignited before a 
thousand trained workers, wearing helmets and rubber coats, 
were able to cap the well. Drilled in the deepest field in oil his- 
tory, these wells encountered rock pressure ranging from 2,000 
to 3,000 pounds as compared with 800 to 1,800 pounds in other strata. 
No wonder the gushers blew, as a tool-dresser said, "like an ex- 
haust pipe connected with hell." Some of these wells are fired 
by the friction of sand and pebbles against casing pipe. The 
problem of Oklahoma City was not the problem of the boom 
town. Her task was to halt by some legal means the near ap- 
proach of a stupendous oil development which for a time 
threatened the very existence of the city. Until some modus 
vivendi was worked out with oil exploitation the city indeed stood 
in danger. 36 

In spite of its financial magnitude the industry especially in the 
Southwest has been opened by a series of runs and discoveries 
verging on stampedes as spectacular as they were unplanned. A 
glance at the industry's history bears this out. 37 By 1879 Texas 
was listed as an oil producing state with a yearly output of less 
than 500 barrels. A well was bored at Nacogdoches in 1866, only 
seven years after Drake's famous Pennsylvania strike. A well at 
Corsicana in 1895 produced 2% barrels a day and served as the prel- 
ude to Spindle Top. In 1901 the famous Spindle Top pool near 
Beaumont blew in with a ten day gusher that opened the Gulf 
field once for all and definitely added Texas to the oil empire. 
Cattle kings became oil barons, and out of the Spindle Top came 
the four major companies that have since dominated Texas the 
Gulf, the Texas, the Magnolia, and the Humble Oil corporations. 

In 1906 a wildcatter well, dug at Kiefer near Tulsa under the 
jests of deriding cowboys, brought in the Glenn pool and opened 
the great Mid-Continent field) for the Southwest* Kiefer be- 
came a wild town of excess, debauchery, promotion, and crime, 
just as Spindle Top had developed gigantic swindling schemes. 
Tulsa from a casual Indian trading post grew to 100,000 people 
almost within a decade. By 1911 a well on the Wagonner Ranch 

"See Earl Sparling, "Oil Hells in Oklahoma," Outloo\ and Independent, Feb. 
n, 1931, pp. 214-17. 

87 Isaac F. Marcosson, The Elac\ Golconda, chs. vii, viii. 


in North Central Texas opened a new pool and proved that the 
Mid-Continent field underlay West and Central Texas. Just 
a year later Oklahoma countered with the discovery of the fa- 
mous Gushing field and thereby made the Osage Indians who 
occupied Creek County the richest collectivity in the world. Texas 
was ready to reply and by another series of lucky accidents opened 
the Ranger field of Central and North Texas in 1917 and the 
Burkburnett field of South Texas in 1918. Fort Worth then 
joined the parade, becoming the capital of the next oil promo- 
tion group. Nineteen-twenty saw E. W. Marland wildcat the 
famous Burbank pool for Oklahoma while Texas replied with 
the discovery of Mexia, the approach to the Powell pool and a 
return to the Gulf coast. Powell was brought in by 1923, the same 
year in which the Tankwa reservoir, also discovered by Mar- 
land, reached the peak of production for Oklahoma. In the mean- 
time South Arkansas had joined the procession with a great gas 
well at El Dorado in 1922 and extended the pool to include a 
great oil producing field around Smackover in 1923. Renewed 
discoveries at lower depths in the Texas Panhandle, the Gulf, 
and near Oklahoma City have pushed the Southwest to its great- 
est production in history. 

The figures on oil areas and production serve to indicate the 
predominance of the Southwest. In a classification that has stood 
unaltered for over twenty years the United States Geological Sur- 
vey listed the nation's oil fields as Appalachian, Lima-Indiana, 
Illinois, Mid-Continent, Gulf Coast, Rocky Mountain, and Cal- 
ifornia areas. The Mid-Continent formation underlies southern 
Kansas, Oklahoma, and Northern and Western Texas. The 
Gulf field, coextensive] with that of Mexico, accounts for the pro- 
ducing wells of Arkansas, Louisiana, South and East Texas. To- 
gether with California they rank as the country's greatest pro- 
ducing fields, while Oklahoma, Texas, and California vie with 
each other for the position of the leading state. The extent of oil 
production varies in a large degree with the newness of the fields. 
While there are something over 300,000 producing wells in the 
United States, half the total product comes from some 6,900 wells. 
A recent year gave the following ratios: Pennsylvania with 25 
per cent of all the wells produced less than two per cent of the 
country's oil. California with only four per cent of the wells 


produced almost 30 per cent of the year's supply. Oklahoma with 
20 per cent of the wells produced 25 per cent of the supply, while 
Texas with 8 per cent accounted for 21 per cent of the crude. 38 
The statistics of oil reserves have proved too static for a dy- 
namic industry, and practical oil men have ended by professing 
disregard for them. Figures of production, fluctuate as they will, 
usually find the United States furnishing from 60 to 70 per cent 
of the world's total, and Oklahoma, Texas, and California tak- 
ing turns at leadership. The result of the hectic activity recounted 
above has been to lift the production of petroleum in the South- 
west from 1.3 per cent of the nation's output in 1900 to 32.3 per 
cent in 1910, 59.3 per cent in 1929, and 61.2 per cent in 1930. Table 
XXXVI also indicates that the Mid-Continent field finds its near- 


(In Barrels of 42 Gallons) 




















836 000 

8 899 000 

296 876 000 

289 965 000 




597,370 000 


United States 





South's Percentage 





(In Barrels of 42 Gallons) 






Lima N. E. Indiana 





Illinois S. W Indiana 

7 425 000 

6 638,000 

553 125 000 


Gulf Coast 



Rocky Mountain . 








88 J. C. Welliver, "Oil, the New Industrial Giant," Review of Reviews, 76, pp. 


cst competitor in the California field with less than half its out- 
put while the Gulf Coast is almost twice as productive as its near- 
est rival, the Appalachian field. Oil has been the most rapidly 
and ruthlessly exploited of all southern resources. 

On the basis of the spectacular rise and fall of production 
from new and passing oil pools the industrialization of the South- 
west has been erected. That the industry is basically a specula- 
tion is shown by the amazing figures on the number of dry holes. 
Up to 1924 four Oklahoma counties had counted 3,568 
dry holes each one marking the place where a small for- 
tune had been sunk. A Bulletin of the American Association of 
Petroleum Geologists estimates, for example, that in 1922 the cost 
of drilling that year's 23,000 wells plus other costs of production 
was $59,000,000 in excess of the value of the oil secured. Twenty- 
four Oklahoma wells cost $8.14 per foot or $23,022 per 
average well to drill. 93 Let no one, however, doubt the com- 
pensations when the wildcatter strikes it rich. In 1922, for 
example, 37 oil producing counties paid 48 per cent of the Texas 
state property tax, leaving to the other 220 counties the task of 
completing the other 52 per cent. In 1917 before oil was found in 
the Rogers field the taxable property of Eastland County was a 
paltry n million. Three years later it had risen to 58 million 
dollars. Emphasis has been placed on royalties and profits, but 
the industry distributes in Texas well over $100,000,000 annually 
in wages. 

Moreover, petroleum refining has reached a stage of perma- 
nence and stabilization possibly unattainable by migrating oil 
production. While one pool succeeds another with startling rapid- 
ity the general fields remain localized. Thus settled metropoli- 
tan centers have grown up to serve these areas as centers of re- 
fining, distribution, and export. Connected by railroads, high- 
ways, and pipe lines, with the hinterland of oil, there has developed 
on the strip of Coast between Corpus Christi and the Louisiana 
line one of the great refining and export centers of world com- 
merce. Only the New York port area exceeds in volume and value 
the exports originating in the Gulf Port region of Texas, 
while only California at times exceeds Texas in the capacity of 
its refineries. Port Arthur can lay claim to serving as capital of 

'"'Wortham, op. cit., V, lySff. 


the greatest oil refining district in the world. Single tank farms at 
both Beaumont and Port Arthur cover over a hundred acres. 
The Gulf Company, for example, owns a refinery at Port Arthur, 
covering no acres, which has run day and night for the last 
twenty-seven years. If, as Marcosson says, Tulsa is 75 per cent 
oil, Port Arthur is 100 per cent oil. The whole Southwest, if one 
includes Louisiana and Arkansas, possesses over 40 per cent of 
the country's refining plants with some 40 per cent of both 
the total crude and cracking capacity. In the adoption of 
cracking production to insure a higher return of gasoline, the 
Southwest has helped set the pace for the nation. Invented about 
1912, the process subjects heavy oils to intense heat in stills built to 
withstand high internal pressure. As a direct consequence of its 
use, over 39 per cent of America's crude oil was converted into 
gasoline in 1929 as compared to only 5 per cent of Roumania's oil 
output. Table XXXVII serves to show the Southwest's com- 
parative ranking in the refining industry. 



No. of 

No. of 

Daily Crude 
in Bbls. 

Plants with 




48 000 


























The Nation 



3 721 360 


1 705 299 

Because of increasing improvement in technique, natural gas 
has long since ceased to rank as a comparatively unimportant by- 
product of the oil wells. Increasing quantities of wet gas are run 
to still and come out gasoline, while extensions of pipe lines have 
brought natural gas within reach of industrial and household con- 
sumers in urban areas outside the Southwest. The United States 
in 1931 possessed 65,000 miles of natural gas trunk lines, approx- 
imately one half originating in the Mid-Continent field. In 1928 
the four states so denominated accounted for 55.4 per cent of the 
natural gas produced and marketed in the United States at a 
total value of over 363 millions of dollars. In 1930 two trillion 


cubic feet of gas worth one half billion dollars were consumed in 
the United States, and one fifth of this was manufactured gas. 
One giant pipe line system supplied the consumers of Birming- 
ham and Atlanta from Shreveport; another leads from Aramillo 
to Chicago. In addition Louisiana has an important carbon black 
industry based on natural gas. 


In the Texas Gulf Port area is found the Southwest's most 
stable achievement toward industrialism. Two thirds of the ton- 
nage leaving the Texas Gulf Ports is accounted for by oil and oil 
products. 40 Two thirds of its petroleum products are exported 
by tank steamers to Europe and our northeastern ports. But in 
spite of thousands of acres covered with refineries, storage tank 
farms, by-product plants, and shipping facilities, the value of 
petroleum exports is exceeded by cotton. Galveston and Hous- 
ton; have alternated as first and second cotton port of the world. 
Since Oklahoma and Texas are negligible in cotton manufactur- 
ing, practically the whold of the crop must be exported to eastern 
mills. High density compresses, superior terminal facilities, and 
low shipping rates attract practically the whole of the western 
crop through these ports. The situation is comparable in oil, 
for the pipe lines from Louisiana, Arkansas, Kansas, Wyoming, 
and Montana fields converge here. Moreover, every new dis- 
covery leads to the extension of existing pipe lines. Here the 
facilities are equally superior, and vessels carrying 75,000 to 125,000 
barrels of oil can be loaded in 10 to 12 hours. Some sixty steam- 
ship lines serve Houston and Galveston and the trade of the com- 
bined port regions in 1925 comprised a tonnage of 31,819,624 
valued at $1,919,002,237. 

The extent of this development is all the more noteworthy 
when it is considered that not a single port is situated on a nat- 
ural harbor. Man, not nature, made the Texas Gulf ports. From 
the shallow bays, tidal marshes, and sluggish bayous of a flat 
sand-bar coast have been dredged these excellent ship-channels 
making ports of inland cities from Corpus Christi to Lake Charles, 
Louisiana. Galveston, the only port situated on the ocean, in- 

40 See William T. Chambers' study, "The Gulf Port Region of Texas," Economic 
Geography, VII, 69-83. 


creased her channels from their natural depth of 10 or 12 feet 
to 30 and 35 by dredging and jetties. The famous sea- 
wall and causeway completed the protection of her port. Hous- 
ton, situated inland on a small stream, completed in 1914 a chan- 
nel 50 miles long, 150 feet wide, and 28 feet deep, widened at 
the city to form a turning basin. Lake Charles is a port by vir- 
tue of a 30 mile channel to the sea. The Sabine Port District, 
including Orange, Beaumont, and Port Arthur, attained ocean 
transportation only by artificial ship channels finally completed 
in 1926. Of this group Houston, situated nearest the Black Waxy, 
has outdistanced all competitors having increased its population 
from 78,000 to 292,000 in the last twenty years. She is now the me- 
tropolis, and having vanquished Galveston, girds her loins for the 
struggle with New Orleans over the future of Gulf-borne com- 


In its population elements the Southwest differs considerably 
from the South. Not only does the section have less Negroes 
but Texas possesses a distinctive Mexican element while Okla- 
homa has its Indians. From Spanish origins came many things 
that make Texas culture distinctive. In this it can be approached by 
no southern state save Louisiana. With constant communication 
across the border, a steady stream of Mexican casual labor passes in 
and out of Texas. No one knows the number of Mexicans in the 
state but a recent estimate placed it at 249,652. Mexican immigra- 
tion is increasing, a fact which adds weight to the characteriza- 
tion of the Southwest as a laboratory for social research. 41 Okla- 
homa is the last "permanent home of the Indians." The five civil- 
ized tribes, Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw, and Chickasaw, 
were not wild Indians of the plains, nomadic and bloodthirsty. 
They were a quiet agricultural group, made up of small farmers 
and stock raisers. 42 Their land belonged to the tribe rather than 
the individual, and each group had a strong and intelligent 
tribal government. In 1920 these five tribes numbered 119,255 souls, 
held 19,551,890 acres of land to the value of more than $300,000,- 

41 J. J. and C. R. Rhync, "The Southwest Laboratory for Social Research," 
Southwestern Political and Social Science Quarterly, X, 33-41. 

"Charles N. Gould, "Oklahoma, An Example of Arrested Development," Eco- 
nomic Geography, II, 426-50. 


ooo, and received an income of nearly forty million dollars. In 
1923 Indians as wards of the nation received the sum of $36,659,810 
from royalties on gas and oil leases. The civilized tribes have 
largely taken over the white man's culture and have been prac- 
tically assimilated into Oklahoma. They meet no prejudice, many 
have risen to positions of prominence, and many of the state's 
proudest families boast of Indian blood in their veins. 

One cannot escape the feeling that the great Southwest repeats 
in scenery and stage properties much of the cultural landscape of 
the South. Originally meant as reinforcement of the ante bellum 
cotton kingdom, Texas has fulfilled her manifest destiny. From 
the close' of the Civil War to 1900 it is estimated' that Texas and 
the Southwest received some two million immigrants from the 
old Cotton Belt. The Black Waxy and the Grand Prairies fur- 
nish duplicates of the Cotton Belt, and Oklahoma not thirty years 
young has already attained its tenancy structure. This has been 
done, moreover, without an influx of Negro population at all 
proportionate to the ratios of older states. The main agricultural 
settlements of Texas were made after the abolition of slavery; and 
Oklahoma was settled on the run by a white pioneer yeomanry. 

While a large proportion of the settlers of Oklahoma were 
southerners, an even larger part of the Texas immigration came 
from the South. East Texas comes nearest resembling the Old 
South while the plains to the west are truly western in population 
and spirit. The dust of their migrations is still on the popula- 
tion of the Southwest and the common greeting is "Where are 
you from?" Oklahoma is very much a young cosmopolite of 
North, South, East, and West. North Oklahoma is as full of Kan- 
sas Jayhawkers as Eastern Oklahoma is of Arkansawyers. One 
may guess the antecedents o an Oklahoma farmer from a simple 
culture trait. If he calls his cattle enclosure a barnyard, he is 
from the North; if he speaks of it as a cowpen, he hails from the 
South; if it is a corral, he comes from Texas. 43 While in the South- 
west the frontier has lingered longest in the present, in Okla- 
homa it passed in a generation. In an industrial folder designed 
to lure immigration and investment the Oklahoma State Board 
of Agriculture has felt it necessary to reassure potential citizens 
that the frontier has passed: 

43 Charles N. Gould, loc. dl. 


The traveler finds nothing particularly different here. He may ride on 
just as well equipped trains, put up at as modern hotels, eat as good food, 
transact business as expeditiously, in as attractive offices and with as keen 
minded men, find amusement at as good theatres or golf grounds, meet 
as refined and charming women, attend as good churches and hear as 
eloquent preachers, and in general live as pleasant and strenuous a life 
in Oklahoma as in other states. 

Its naive acceptance of values of the American business man 
should not blind us to the truth of the statement. In words that 
Americans understand: The Southwest, old cow country and con- 
temporary frontier, has arrived. Its growing cities lift their new 
skyscrapers "like totem poles among the Baptists." Were it not 
for the Baptists and cotton the regionalist could not so boldly claim 
this area for the South. 



THUS have passed in review the varied regions and resources of 
the South. Conditioning, integrating, dominating these diverse 
domains is the climate, called by W. G. Kendrew the most far- 
reaching of the natural elements that shape the destiny of man. 1 
Human energy and efficiency, the type and extent of disease, the 
significance and bearing of regional diet, and the complexion 
of culture in the South no doubt carry certain gross as well as 
subtle imprints from sun, rain, and wind. This chapter attempts 
to delimit the southern climatic province, to discuss the biology 
of climate, and to ascertain how far the South suffers the handi- 
caps of a sub-tropic climate. Succeeding chapters will show the 
relation of regional climate and efficiency to both disease and diet. 
Certainly climate has not been neglected in the popular esti- 
mate of the South. It, in fact, has been regarded by many as the 
region's raison d'etre. Southern reactions to climate have been 
popularly estimated to range all the way from the forced importa- 
tion of tropic laborers to a change in the Anglo-Saxon tempera- 
ment and a lowering of biological adequacy similar to that en- 
countered in tropic climes. Thus by some the southern United 
States is regarded as the scene of a geographical human experi- 
ment of great significance. In this area the white man has 
wagered against climate, and history and science are yet unde- 
cided as to whether he has won or lost. Thus the economic geog- 
raphers, Jones and Whittlesey, can write: "The suitability of this 
climate for Europeans is in dispute as evidenced by the introduc- 
tion of colored races into southern United States and Natal." 2 
It may be admitted that in the usual course of things the Euro- 
pean goes to the tropics and assumes the white man's burden by 

a W. G. Kendrew, Climate, p. i. 

a W. D. Jones and D. S. Whittlesey, An Introduction to Economic Geography, 
p. 145. 



organizing the native laborers under the plantation system for 
the production of such staples as tea, rubber, coffee, bananas, cot- 
ton or sugar cane. The plantation, as A. G. Keller has pointed 
out in his work on Colonization, is the mode agriculture assumes 
in the tropics. 

While partly accounted for by imperialism and the Euro- 
pean economic surplus for foreign investment, the plantation 
owes much of its actual structure to the influence of climate. To 
W. Z. Ripley "a colonial policy in the tropics means a permanent 
servile native population" largely because "one of the many things 
expressly forbidden to all colonists in the tropics is agricultural 
labor. It would be a waste of energy to give citations to prove this, 
for every work on acclimatization insists upon the necessity of this 
precaution." 3 

Now it is held the American South took an opposite course to 
the same end. The are^ itself partook of the nature of a col- 
ony. Possessing a subtropic climate, land in abundance, and a 
great scarcity of labor, the province imported both the plantation 
form and the servile labor to man it. Thus, in the course of 
time arose the nineteenth century superstition that no white man 
could work in southern fields and keep his health. It was con- 
tradicted at the time, needless to say, by thousands of yeoman 
farmers and their wives who tilled fields of cotton and corn along- 
side the plantation in its palmiest days. Then, as if to prove 
whether an agriculture so constructed could stand alone, the South 
saw its system of chattel slavery abolished. 

Thus, one may claim that the whole South was organized 
around an attempt to escape the handicaps of a subtropic climate. 
The argument has been extended to claim a climatic change of 
temperament. For the first time in history, we are told, Nordics 
of the English, Teutonic, or Anglo-Saxon persuasion have lived 
below the 39th parallel. They have so lived, labored, and multi- 
plied for nine generations. "Not elsewhere in the world over," 
writes E. N. Vallandingham, "have Englishmen dwelt contin- 
uously in large numbers under semi-tropical conditions for as 
much as three generations." The British official class in India 
have been constantly renewed from the homeland. Vallanding- 
ham, in 1907, saw the descendants of middle-class Englishmen in 

1 Races of Europe, pp. 586-87. 


the process of becoming fiery Latins under the southern sun, and 
called the southerners "our men of the Midi." He saw the south- 
erner taking on the characteristics and temperament of the Euro- 
pean races that fringe the Mediterranean. Ardent in love, deadly 
in jealousy, fiery yet steady in physical courage, soft of speech 
and manner yet easily roused to flaming anger, provincial and 
supersensitive to outside criticism, the southerner had gained a 
warmth and color which made him seem to Vallandingham a 
different race from the Yankee. The impassive Englishman has 
been tempered by the southern sun with the tinge of the South 
European. 4 So runs the theory, and it is as neat as it is incapable 
of demonstration. 

It would be folly to deny the great significance its climate 
bears to southern culture. Whether the introduction of the Negro 
as a slave was primarily an attempt to evade the consequences 
of climate rather than to remedy the labor shortage is more than 
doubtful. Certain it is that Virginia for three quarters of her first 
century relied on white labor. It is quite as doubtful that climate 
is molding racial temperament and disposition. Let us, however, 
attempt to reduce climate to its meteorological elements apart from 
its conditioning of food, clothing, habitation, and the content of 
culture. To delimit the South as a climatic province on the basis 
of temperature, humidity, and seasonal changes and to present 
its stable characteristics so that the region may be compared with 
similar areas would be a difficult first step. The next step, the 
determination, however roughly, of the bio-physics of a given re- 
gional complex of temperature, humidity, sun, and wind, has 
not yet been achieved by either biologist or climatologist. Then to 
trace the almost invisible margins where culture and climate im- 
pinge in the South would furnish further tasks. The attempt to 
chart climatic influences and adjustments has always proved the 
geographer's most elusive and difficult assignment. In our pres- 
ent state of knowledge it must be admitted these questions cannot 
be answered to our full satisfaction. 


The complex we call climate is composed of (i) temperature 
from solar radiation with the ratios of sunshine and cloudiness, 

4 "Our Men of the Midi," Atlantic Monthly, 99, pp. 848-56. 




(2) precipitation with its functions of evaporation and humidity, 
and (3) the prevailing winds which bring changes in temperature. 
It is relative humidity that gives the feel of the air. High humid- 
ity in low temperatures means a "raw" climate, in high tempera- 
tures it means a "sultry" climate. 5 That for any area climate 
should be elusive is toi be expected. Climate is no more than the 
long-time average of weather; and weather has long been the 
synonym of shifting uncertainty. Accordingly, as Kendrew points 
out, "no picture of climate is at all true unless it is painted in all 
the colors of the constant variation of weather and the changes of 
season." 6 

The South does not comprise a sharply defined climatic prov- 
ince. The topography of the United States possesses no great trans- 
verse mountain barrier from east to west, and the slowly grad- 
uated effect of latitude on solar heat is everywhere modified by 
wide plains left open to cold winds from Canada and warm moist 
winds from the Gulf. 7 While it is true that the United States 
may be divided roughly into a cold North, a warm South, a humid 
East, and an arid West, such division cannot do justice to the 
varied interplay of climatic factors. Both Koppen and Ward, 
however, have furnished classifications of climate from which 
we may compile a description of the types of climate met in the 
South. The picture, however, will not be as definite as that of 
the climate of southern California where the Pacific on the West 
and the mountains to the East sharply delimit a climatic zone, 
which can only be compared with the Riviera of southern Eu- 
rope. The South is found in the east continental margins of the 
middle latitude, an area which Jones and Whittlesey assign to 
the humid subtropical zone. 8 In this they follow largely W. 
Koppen's classification. 9 In his analysis the South is practically 
coextensive with the East Coast Humid Mesothermal Province 
as developed in the United States. In the division of Robert 
De C. Ward all of the South falls within two climatic provinces, 
the Eastern and the Gulf. The Eastern province comprises most 
of the United States east of the High Plains. The Gulf prov- 

5 C. E. P. Brooks, Climate, p. 14. 
8 Of. tit., p. 2. 

7 Robert De C. Ward, The Climates of the United States, p. 18. 

8 Op. cit., pp. 142-45. 

8 Die Klimdte der Erde, Tafel I. 


ince cuts into the area in the South, comprising all of Florida 
and Louisiana and the southern half of Georgia, Alabama, Mis- 
sissippi, and south Texas. The world areas whose climates corre- 
spond most nearly to southern conditions are the southeast fringe 
of Australia, Natal, South Africa, southern Japan, southeastern 
China, and the pampas of Argentine. 

The climate of the Gulf Coast is striking in that it is subject 
to sudden changes in temperature. The weather is warm be- 
cause of the waters of the Gulf, but the interior is left wide open 
to the winds from the north which are neither broken by moun- 
tain ranges nor tempered by waters. Thus the winters are ex- 
tremely variable but the cold spells are brief. The heat of sum- 
mer while great is not oppressive. Sunstroke, for instance, is 
rare on the Gulf but frequent in northern interior states. Short 
days give the earth more time to cool, and Gulf breezes do the 
rest. 10 The climate of Florida is subject to the same variations 
though they are not so striking. The range of temperature in 
Florida is about half that of the St. Lawrence Valley in a normal 
year. Maximum temperatures of 100 and over are not experi- 
enced in the peninsula of Florida or along the Gulf Coast. Nor 
has the Gulf Coast or the Atlantic Coast south of the Chesapeake 
Bay ever experienced a temperature below zero. This region 
possesses a high even temperature in a country whose range is 
from 130 in the Colorado desert of southern California to 50 
below zero at Mount Washington, New Hampshire the highest 
and lowest temperatures ever recorded in the United States. 11 

Eastern North America from Florida to Maine is distinctive 
for possessing one of the steepest temperature gradients for its 
length to be found in the world. It is noteworthy that this range 
in temperature is greatest in winter, to the benefit of the South. 
Ward explains lucidly: "A long journey from South to North in 
search of decidedly cooler summers gives far less change than the 
corresponding trip from North to South in winter in search of 
much warmer and balmier climates." 12 For example, the an- 
nual average of temperature for North Carolina is about 15 above 
that of the Pennsylvania-Massachusetts section. The July nor- 

10 N. S. Shaler, The United States, I, 90. 

u Bowman, Forest Physiography of the United States, p. 115. 

u Op. cit., p. 88. 


mals for both regions are about the same while the January 
normal for North Carolina is around 15 to 20 above the New 
York normal for January. 13 According to monthly averages 
warmth seekers find the temperature increasing about 1.5 for every 
hour they travel southward in a fast express train. 14 "The prod- 
ucts of tropical and polar lands are here separated by less distance 
than anywhere else in the world. At the same time communica- 
tion between these districts of sharply contrasted climates and types 
of vegetation is easy." 15 

Miss Semple has pointed out the influence of this temperature 
gradient on the economic development of the thirteen colonies. 

It gave New England commerce command of a nearly tropical trade in 
the West Indies, of subtropical products in the southern colonies in close 
proximity to all the contrasted products of a cold climate dense forests 
for naval stores and lumber and an inexhaustible supply of fish from 
polar currents, which met a strong demand in Europe and the Antilles. 
The sudden southward drop of the O C annual isothermal line toward 
the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes brought the northwestern fur 
trade to the back gate of New York, where it opened on the Mohawk 
and upper Hudson, and brought prosperity to the young colony. 16 

Actually the South may be said to possess four climatic sub- 
regions, indicated roughly by the length of the growing season. 
Ulrich Phillips points out: 

The growing season lasts on an average six months at Baltimore, Louis- 
ville, and Saint Louis; seven at Norfolk, Atlanta, and Memphis; eight 
at Columbia, Montgomery, and Dallas; and nine at Charleston, New 
Orleans, and Galveston. The climate has fostered the cultivation of to- 
bacco in the first zone, cotton in the second and third, and rice and sugar 
cane in the fourth. 17 

Only in the fourth zone of South Florida and the Rio Grande 
Valley of Texas can the southern climate be called tropical. James 
J. Hill's rash dictum that no man on whom the snow does not fall 
can be worth a damn does not apply in its full force to the South, 
for frosts, freezes, and occasional snows occur on all but Gulf and 

13 S. H. Hobbs, Jr., North Carolina Economic and Social, p. 10. 

14 Ward, op. cit., p. 83. 
*lbid., p. 105. 

16 Influence of Geographic Environment, p. 618. 

17 Life and Labor in the Old South, p. 3. 




Coastal fringes. Nowhere is the growing season twelve months 
long and several times in each decade hard freezes grip the re- 
gion, bringing death to perennial plants. Such were the Florida 
freezes of 1894 and 1896 which destroyed practically all the orange 
groves. On the other hand, the cold is normally neither severe 
nor protracted. Freezing temperatures anywhere in the South 
normally last no more than a few days at a time. The mean tem- 
peratures of the coldest months are likely to be over 32 F., nor 
is the soil frozen annually. Especially characteristic are the long 
warm summers of the deep South. The July mean is usually 
above 77 F. and the temperature can be trusted to ascend above 
90 F. on fifty or more afternoons of every year. Moreover, its 
rainfall is well above the average of the country, with no pro- 
nounced dry season. Except west Texas, none of the South has 
an annual precipitation less than forty inches; Delta, Gulf, Coastal 
Fringe, and Mountains reach fifty or above. The whole region 
averages just about 48 inches. Accordingly, the relative humidity 
is high throughout the warm season. With only light daytime 
breezes, the change from day to night brings to the lower South 
the relief that saves it. 

No one has more eloquently described the climate of the Deep 
South, that of the fourth zone, than a brilliant son of Alabama. 

Those midday heats are often hard to bear. The sun's progress through 
the heavens is the hard march of a ruthless conqueror. The rank vegeta- 
tion fairly chokes the earth. Insects buzz and sting and irritate. Serpents 
writhe to the surface of miasmous streams. Beasts palpitate and grow 
restless. Men brood and weary of the loneliness and long for excitement, 
for fierce deeds, battles, conquests. But with the sudden dropping of the 
sun in the west a swift change comes over the earth and beasts and men. 
There is the stillness of the wide level fields, snow-like with cotton; the 
softer, night-time noises of the woods and swamps; the splendor of the 
southern stars; the tinkling of banjos and the twinkling of lights in the 
Negro quarters; the white dresses of women and children; and the ex- 
quisite slow tones of human voices on the verandas of the great house. 
The rancor of the midday passes eclipsed, overcome, atoned for, by the 
charmed sweetness of that dying hour. 18 

The comparison of mean annual temperature maxima and 
minima for the two sections gives the South certain definite ad- 
18 W. G, Brown, The Lower South in American History, pp. 48-49. 


vantages over the North. Weather that in the North causes tem- 
peratures to fall from 10 below to 40 below zero rarely reaches 
zero in the South's middle zone or ten below in the upper range. 
Savannah, Georgia, for example, has a mean winter temperature 
equal to that of London in May. Moreover, it can readily be 
shown that the lowest possible temperature incident to an area is 
of much greater economic importance than the highest. Cheaper 
living costs, lower fuel costs, and unhampered transportation re- 
sult from the South's climatic differential. The warmest tem- 
peratures for the whole United States are surprisingly uniform. 
Extreme temperature of 100 F. has been observed over all the 
United States except a few small and widely scattered areas. Ex- 
cepting the winds of west Texas the southern United States pos- 
sesses no counterpart to the "Zonda" of the Argentine pampas 
that sultry wind from the north, feared because of the lassitude 
and disease it brings. 

The whole advantage may be summed up by saying that 
while the South is largely free from the intensity of northern cold 
waves, the North is open to the periodic recurrence of hot waves. 
It is true that Texas has its norther, a rushing blast from the north- 
west known to bring at times a drop in temperature of 25 an 
hour. The cold waves of the North are, however, unique for 
their frequency and intensity. 

According to Ward, the southern states have a somewhat dif- 
ferent relation to hot waves. They naturally have prevailing 
higher summer temperatures. They are farther from the storm 
tracks. "Often, however, while warm, southerly and southwesterly 
winds are causing hot wave conditions over the central and northern 
sections, northerly and northeasterly winds are blowing across 
Florida and the northern Gulf Coast. Florida, with its 
winds coming directly from the Gulf, may then have decidedly 
lower temperatures than states much further north." 19 From the 
Mississippi and Ohio valleys to the eastern coast hot waves last- 
ing over a week cause much suffering, prostration, and illness, 
especially in large cities. Neither sunstroke nor heat prostration 
is nearly so common in the South, and yet that area possesses cities 
which do not lack slum areas. Critics of the southern climate 
have to face the fact that in northern and eastern cities summers 

19 Ward, op. cit., p. 388. 


are likely to be more intolerable than in the South. Hot, moist 
winds blowing from southerly latitudes bring "sunstroke weather, 
epidemics of cholera infantum, spells of suffering in the crowded 
cities." 20 


A regular dose of ultra-violet rays on the skin has perhaps a 
more important effect on the health of an individual than any 
single long-time factor except diet. With other factors equalized, 
the most healthful climate, Ward holds, is the one which permits and 
encourages its denizens to spend the maximum amount of time 
outdoors in open air and sun. 21 The South with 140 to 160 clear 
days a year is thus superior to the North and East with 100 to 120. 
In North Carolina, for example, winter days are about 50 minutes 
longer than in the New York-Massachusetts section, while in sum- 
mer the days are 50 minutes shorter. This difference increases 
farther south. It is in summer that the sun's rays are enervating. 
Long winter days, however, are especially advantageous with the 
extra advantage they offer of exposure to the sun's rays. 22 This 
prevalence of sunshine reaches out into southern life in ways not 
yet analyzed. Despite poor food, housing, and sanitary conditions, 
southern rural Negroes often surprise observers with their sturdy 
physique and good health. It is no doubt partly because as chil- 
dren and adults they spend much time in the sun. Rickets in 
children, for instance, has been definitely related to lack of ultra- 
violet rays. In the absence of other data some have turned to ath- 
letic records as an indication of health and vigor reflecting cli- 
matic conditions. When southern football was at the bottom 
of the heap, practice in the debilitating heat of the southern au- 
tumn was taken to explain the players' comparative lack of stam- 
ina. Now that southerners hold their own or better in inter- 
sectional competition, such writers for the sporting press as George 
Trevor and Grantland Rice see reflections of the man building 
power of the climate. The greater exposure to ultra-violet rays 
is as fully a scientific explanation of the comparative rank of south- 
ern athletics, as heat and humidity. 

The biological effects o extremes of heat and cold are known 

20 ibid., p. 49. 

21 Ibid., p. 445- 

22 S. H. Hobbs, Jr., op. dt., pp. 10-11. 


and obvious, but to differentiate within temperate ranges such 
as those found in the United States is difficult. C. F. Brooks of 
Clark University has suggested that the scientific basis for classifica- 
tion of climate is in its effect on human comfort. The work of 
Huntington in attempting to ascertain the climatic optimum is 
well known. 23 It has tended to show the existence of a physical 
optimum for Europeans at a mean temperature of about 65 F. for 
day and night together, a relative humidity of about 80 per cent, 
and an interdiurnal variability averaging not far from 3 F. On 
these counts the optimum climate would show a midday sum- 
mer temperature ranging from 70 to 75 F., winter nights frosty, 
air moist chough to form dew or frost at night, and storms fre- 
quent enough to cause weather variability of 3 F. daily. South- 
eastern England is the only area which approaches these condi- 
tions. Nowhere else does the white race, says Huntington, live 
under the optima of climate. The criteria by which Dr. Hunting- 
ton attempts to establish these optima have been severely criticized 
in many quarters. 24 

Man is an adaptable animal, however, and no one is yet sure 
how far adaptation by habituation can go. It is readily pointed 
out that some two hundred degrees of temperature separate the 
coldest inhabited spot on earth from the hottest. 25 There is one 
folk saying which agrees with scientific fact. "It's not the heat 
but the humidity" is the plain statement of the fact that the tem- 
perature experienced by the body does not agree with that re- 
corded by the dry bulb thermometer. If the thermometer had 
its bulb covered by a moist wick kept at the temperature of the 
body, 98 F., it would record sensible temperature that felt by 
the body. 

The incidence of climate on human activity was not fully 
understood until the researches of Dr. Leonard Hill, an English 
sanitary expert. Dr. Hill finds the rate at which heat is lost by 
the body the chief factor in comfort. Body heat is produced by 
oxidation regulated by types of food and muscular activity; it 

23 Ellsworth Huntington, Civilization and Climate; World Power and Evolution. 

24 Pitirim Sorokin, Contemporary Sociological Theories, pp. 137-59, 186-93. Also 
Stanley Stevens, "A Critique of the Climatic Hypothesis of Ellsworth Huntington," 
unpublished M.A. thesis, University of North Carolina, 1931. A. A. Goldenwciser, 
"Meteorological Magic," New Review, May 1916, pp. 164-65. 

26 E. E. Free and Travis Hoke, Weather, p. 287. 


is lost by evaporation and radiation. High temperatures may be 
made tolerable by low humidity which increases evaporation of 
perspiration. Indeed the effect of humidity is to accent tempera- 
ture extremes, since high relative humidity increases radiation of 
body heat in cold and decreases it in hot climates. That fat men 
feel the heat more than others is due to what has been called their 
insufficient radiating surface, the small proportion of skin area 
to body weight. Hill's "katathermometer" which he adapted to 
measure the rate at which heat is taken away from the body may 
come to be used for regulating temperatures in buildings. To 
hold, as does Huntington, that the optimum temperature for men- 
tal workers is some 25 F. lower than that for factory workers 
shows lack of appreciation of the bio-physics of heat loss. Because 
he is producing more bodily heat, the optimum for the manual 
laborer should be lower than that of the sedentary worker to pro- 
mote a higher rate of heat loss. Moreover, the body gives off 
water as well as heat. In a factory perspiration of workers may 
raise the humidity and thus lower the rate of loss of heat. 

In studying this problem Haughten, Yagloglou, and Miller 
devised experimental rooms in which any desired temperature 
and humidity might be obtained. 26 The subjects of the experi- 
ment were tested with varying temperatures and humidities and 
asked to record the stage at which they felt most comfortable. 
The following were found optimum for comfort: 

1 64 F when the air is saturated 

2 66 F with the air 80 per cent saturated 

3 69^2 F with the air 50 per cent saturated 

4 72 F with the air 20 per cent saturated 

5 76 F with the air 45 per cent saturated and a breeze of 340 feet 
a minute blowing a gentle drift of air. 

Comfort they defined as a "condition where the various physio- 
logical functions of the body are carried on with the greatest de- 
gree of efficiency and with the least strain so that the individual 
is not conscious of its existence." 27 This approaches very near the 
conditions of efficient work. These observations, it will be noted, 
were made by people in a state of inactivity, and accordingly come 

26 Report of New Yorf^ State Commission on Ventilation, 1923. 

27 Ellsworth Huntington, Pulse of Progress, pp. 87-89. 


nearer agreeing with conditions of mental rather than physical 


The series of experiments showed that moderately high tem- 
peratures of 68 F. do not diminish ability to do mental work al- 
though an increase from 68 to 75 F. brought about a decrease 
of 15 per cent in physical efficiency. Temperature was shown to 
be more important than either the humidity or purity of the air, 
but cooler temperatures were shown to be more effective in re- 
gard to physical fitness. L. N. Hines found that school pupils 
did their best mental work at classroom temperatures between 60 
and 70 F. and fell off below 60 F. 28 E. G. Dexter found clerical 
errors among bookkeepers and bank clerks least numerous not 
at 39 F. but at 58 F. 29 Only a temperature of above 77 F. seemed 
to be followed by appreciable increase of errors. Moreover, the 
evidence from biology leads one to conclude that the important 
factor in Huntington's mental work curves was not the outside 
temperature of 30 to 40 F., but the temperature inside. This, 
of course, could not so easily be measured, differing as it must 
have from room to room. Hence, the false impression of a tem- 
perature 24 lower than comfortable for physical work as con- 
ducive to the best mental efficiency. 

The problem of life and labor in humid tropical regions seems, 
moreover, to reduce to a statement in bio-physics. The body should 
be regarded as a heat engine generating energy at various rates, 
depending on food and activity, in an environment which tends 
to retard the loss of heat. In some climates "muscular activity in- 
creases the heat output and thus for the sake of comfort and health 
is tq be avoided." 30 This process of heat loss through the skin 
can best) be shown by a study of recent experimental comparisons 
between the races. Dr. Eijkman, professor of hygiene and mi- 
crobiology at the University of Utrecht, has done the best work 
in this field. 31 His experiments show that hard labor measured 
by oxygen consumption is performed less economically at high 

28 "Effect of Class Room Temperatures on Work of Pupils," Psychological Clinic, 
VIII, 1909. 

29 Weather Influences, ch. xiii. 

30 Glenn T. Trewartha, "Recent Thought on the Problem of White Acclimatiza- 
tion in the Wet Tropics," Geographic Review, 16, pp. 467-78. 

31 C. Eijkman, "Some Questions Concerning the Influence of the Tropics on 
Man," The Lancet, CCVI, 887-93. 


temperatures. The research, moreover, indicates that man's body 
does not limit heat production in relation to external conditions 
in any automatic chemical way. His observations have also pointed 
out the biological foundation of the black man's climatic adapta- 
tion. The protective pigment of the Negro is immune to the ef- 
fects of ultra-violet rays as in sunburn, and thus permit him to go 
unclothed for the full benefit of the cooling power of the air. Al- 
though black pigment leads to greater absorption of the sun's 
rays, increased dilation of the cutaneous capillaries follows and 
leads to greater loss of heat by conduction and radiation. Due to 
thicker epidermis the European is forced to lose more heat by 
evaporation. "The white man sweats profusely in the tropics; 
sweat literally drops from him, while the dark skin shows a fine 
velvet-like layer of perspiration, which permits the maximum in 
evaporation and acts as an efficient reflector of the sun's energy. 
The higher secretion of the white is useless, for it deprives the 
body of water and weakens it. Thus the brown man is superior 
to the white in his economy of sweating." 32 

Much of the biological evidence is thus directly against re- 
garding the southern climate as tropic to the point of pathology. 
It is doubtful that the Australian studies of Sundstroem indicat- 
ing a slight but systematic difference in the composition of the 
blood and general functioning of the system in tropic dwellers 
could be duplicated anywhere in the South. Nor is there any ev- 
idence to indicate the existence among southern people of that 
state of physiological stress, a nervous instability verging on neu- 
rasthenia, which life in the tropics tends to produce among Euro- 
peans. 33 Tropical dysentery, for which no therapeutic is known 
except immaculate sanitation on a regional scale, is comparatively 
unknown in the South. The supreme test of the pathology of cli- 
mate is its effect on the birth rate. Long British experience in 
India and the shorter American experience in the Philippines 
seem to show beyond doubt that the ability of the white popula- 
tion to reproduce is reduced under tropical conditions. The 
maintenance of a vigorous and creative ruling class requires a 
constant stream of fresh migrants to replenish the European pop- 

32 ibid. 

33 E. S. Sundstroem, "Contributions to Tropical Physiology," University of Cal- 
ifornia, Publications in Physiology, VI, 1-216. 


illation. In Japan studies have shown that in September at the 
end of the long debilitating summer the conceptions which give 
rise to living children are but little over half as numerous as in 
June. No comparable effect of the southern climate on racial 
survival can be adduced. With practically no immigration, the 
native white birth rate in the southern states ranks highest in the 
nation. Neither death, sterility, nor migration has prevailed to 
weed out European types in the South. 

Moreover, the record of the southern common soldier in the 
Civil War for forced marches and desperate combats should serve 
to contradict any theory that the climate had depleted vigor and 
vitality. Another tribute to the mild nature of the southern 
climate is paid by first settlers who found there no new and exotic 
diseases such as characterize the tropics. Southern dwelling In- 
dians carried no infections with which the Europeans were not 
experienced. While malaria proved the greatest scourge, it had 
been known to Europeans for ages. On the other hand, it may 
be noted that the colonists brought over tuberculosis, measles, and 
smallpox, for which the Indians had acquired no natural im- 

When we come to the biology of heat loss we find that the 
eighteenth century superstition that white men could not work 
in the fields in the South was never more than a superstition ex- 
cept as it served as a rationalized defense for slavery. So deep a 
hold on the popular mind had the eighteenth century superstition 
attained that many travelers felt impelled to contradict it. Olm- 
sted has permitted himself a note of irony on this point. 

Men born, nurtured, and trained in the South show no lack of strength 
or endurance when engaged in athletic exercise, which is immediately 
gratifying to their ambitions, passions, or their tastes. The climate pro- 
hibits no sort of labor, except such as would be generally productive of 
wealth, to the white man of the South. 34 

He took down the opinion of an Englishman who could do as 
much work in the South as in London. Those who drank much 
whiskey and cordials and kept old habits of eating just as if they 
were in England, he held, were the men who complained most 
of the climate, and who thought white men were not made to 

84 Journey in the Bacf( Country, p. 299. 


work in it. A New Yorker whom Olmsted questioned about 
this said: "I have worked steadily through the very hottest weather, 
steadily day after day and done more work than any three niggers 
in the state and been no worse for it. A man has only got to 
take some care of himself." 35 

Olmsted was led the more to agree because of the manual la- 
bor he witnessed. "I have in fact seen more white native Ameri- 
can women at work in the hottest sunshine in a single month, 
and that near midsummer, in Mississippi and Alabama, than all 
my life in the free states, not on account of an emergency as in 
harvesting either, but in the regular cultivation of cotton and 
corn, chiefly of cotton." 36 Here he simply corroborates a fact 
known by almost all southerners that many families in various 
neighborhoods and places who never owned a slave did all their 
own work and left descendants among the most prosperous and 
healthy people in the South. 

If before! 1860 the dangerous effects of southern climate gained 
credence as rationalization for slavery, the vogue of the belief after 
the war was due to immigration. Foreign and northern immi- 
grants, unaccustomed to the sun, took advantage of the longer 
days to accomplish more. Edward King was told in 1870 that 
many German immigrants had been ordered by organizations of 
native laborers not to work so much daily, since they were set- 
ting a dangerous example. King's informant, however, believed 
that almost any white man could do as much work as three Ne- 
groes. 37 It is still true that the northern farmer come South is 
likely to hit a midday summer pace that he cannot keep. The 
climate is no more dangerous than that of the midwest, however, 
and much less productive of sunstroke. The South today is sprin- 
kled full of settlers from every part of Europe and the North 
who work with as great impunity and efficiency as either natives 
or Negroes. So passes the superstition. It belongs with Fred- 
erick Mayratt's view that the climate of America has caused a de- 
terioration in the original physique of English settlers. Until 
further researches present facts now unknown, we are forced 
to the conclusion that any differential that exists in the southern 

35 Journey in the Seaboard Slave States, pp. 237-38. 
35 Journey in the Eac\ Country, p. 298. 
87 Edward King, The Great South, p. 33. 


climate is so slight that it cannot be proved by any of the bio- 
logical criteria applied to the acclimatization of white races in 
the tropics. This is not to deny that man is forced to habituate 
himself to the southern climate, but to point out that such habitua- 
tion is more a matter of personal routine and culture. The great 
test of biological adjustment must remain that of racial survival. 
This is a test the South meets without difficulty. 


That the bearing of climate extends beyond its biological rela- 
tions into the field of culture goes without saying. This by no 
means implies that the culture is determined by the geographic 
complex nor that traits of culture of the South are adapted to its 
climate. Indeed an adequate method of demonstrating the sig- 
nificance of climate to a region would be to list the culture traits 
that are maladjusted to the climate. The contention of the hu- 
man geographer is not that culture has developed in adjustment 
to its terrain but that these two complexes should become increas- 
ingly adjusted. The analysis of the South in this particular may 
serve to show that some of the so-called climatic handicaps are 
lodged in the culture rather than in the climate. 

The very mildness of the climate, for example, has led to mal- 
adjustment in modes of life. Weather is not taken seriously 
enough, and ordinary health precautions are neglected. In mild 
autumn rains farmers travel for miles on horseback or in slow 
moving wagons without covering or raincoats. M. B. Hillyard 
wrote in the i88o's, "I have seen men by the score come to court 
in midwinter wet to the skin with a cold rain, after a ride of 
a dozen or twenty miles, and trust to fires and whiskey to dry 
and warm them." 38 Since then the open Ford has replaced many 
of the wagons but the habit remains. 

Relying on mild weather, the southern farmer continues to 
work in dripping rain where his northern confrere would be 
forced much to his benefit to unhitch and go to the house. The 
same reliance on mild climate has left the common man no more 
careful of his beast than of himself. Cheap and open shelters 
rather than well constructed buildings and barns have prevailed. 
This has proved a heavy drain on the vitality of animals pro- 

33 The New South, p. 279. 


ducing a hardy native stock but handicapping the South with a 
set of wrong practices in its treatment of imported blooded an- 

Despite his rainy climate, the southern common man is less 
likely to build the small fire neededi to take the chill from rooms 
in early winter days. This trait is accelerated in Florida where a 
slight cold spell seems much colder because many householders 
are not prepared for warming their houses. Hillyard feels that 
the northerner with his habitual precautions will benefit more 
from the characteristic southern weather than the too-accustomed 

The architecture that has come to be associated with the planter 
South is a notable achievement in adjustment to weather one 
of the finest worked out on our continent. The verandas, the 
wide high porches, set off by white columns, and the high ceil- 
ings did more than achieve a type of beauty. They protected 
the house from beating rains but more than that they shaded it 
from the sun's slanting rays. What if the hound dog, the cat, 
and the southern colonel with his mint julep followed the shade 
around the veranda. The invasion of the South by an architecture 
without porches is distinctly a step backward. The sun again be- 
comes an enemy by heating the house too much during the day 
for pleasant sleep at night, and southern summer rains necessitate 
the closing of windows during periods of greatest humidity. 

If the common man lacked a colonial mansion, he too built in 
accordance with climate. The first houses built in Virginia, as 
Phillips reminds us, made use of sod and thatch. Not withstanding 
the rainy climate so well, they were replaced by the log house 
adapted from Scandinavian practice, all the more adjusted to 
the frontier because of its forests. A log house was of necessity 
built like a crib. If two rooms were jointed with a floored space 
between, the result was the "dog-run" house so called because 
the hounds scampered unobstructed through the hallway. With 
the emergence of the sawmill the house changed from log to 
frame construction and added two rooms, one on each side. 
Such houses came to dot the southern countryside wherever the 
common man had his home. They, too, represented a valuable 
natural adjustment. Like the dogs, the wind passed through the 
hall and on hot nights the place was excellent for sleeping. In like 


manner, the winter winds and rains might blow through, and with 
increasing means the farmer was likely to board up the run for 
a hall. Thus he improved appearances at the expense of har- 
mony with nature and suffered in loss of comfort. It is possible 
that he followed A. N. Lytle's farmer and weatherboarded the 
logs, added porches front and back, and ceiled the two half-story 
rooms. 39 In this case he was not left at such odds with his weather. 
The southern landscape still exhibits "dog-run" houses in many 
styles but they are a passing trait of our culture. Rather than 
slavishly copy modes from other regions, southern architecture 
should seek to incorporate the high veranda, the dog-run or open 
buildings. The principle of the inner court as used in Latin coun- 
tries might even bear experiment among the more wealthy. Un- 
less this is done the area may lose in comfort what it hopes to 
gain in beauty and adherence to style. The incompatibility of 
the porchless dwelling and the southern climate is recognizable, 
and it remains to be seen what Florida is to make of its modified 
Mediterranean architecture built of variegated stucco. 

The open brush arbor and the gospel tent for the summer 
revival are both accommodations to the outdoor life conditioned 
by climate and slack labor routines. The midday siesta in the 
lower South has seemed as indigenous to the southern summer 
as to its Mediterranean home. In its humblest form it may be 
viewed in August noons on the front porch of Negro cabins in 
the Delta. In its higher reaches the siesta was once enjoyed by 
dignified business men of Charleston, Savannah, and New Or- 
leans. In all three cities time has been when no business could 
be transacted with any figures of prominence for two or three 
hours after noon. Closely related are the cooling drinks and light 
clothing. Children can go barefooted in such a clime either from 
choice or necessity. 

Southern people of a certain type have been held to possess 
the manners of leisure, a languid courtesy, perfection in the nice 
arts of life, and a contempt for manual labor. It is impossible 
either to compliment or indict a whole people but, in so far as 
the statements bear truth, they reflect some of the workings of 
climate. It is interesting to record that the leading historian of 
the South notes certain traits as climatic adjustments. 

"I'llTa&My Stand, p. 218. 


Gastronomic resource is forced by the climate to stimulate appetites 
which the hot weather makes languid. Indeed most of the habits of life 
are affected. In the tedious heat work is hard, indolence easy; speech is 
likely to be slow and somewhat slurred; manners are soft; and except 
when tempers are hot the trend is toward easy-going practices even 
among healthy people. 40 

Ellsworth Huntington is fond of saying somewhat by way of 
a left-handed compliment that the climate is too good to the 
southern people. "The trouble is that people enjoy being too 
warm much better than they enjoy being too cold. Moreover, 
when they are too warm the easiest way to make themselves com- 
fortable is to do as little work as possible, whereas when one is 
too cold the easiest way to be comfortable is to be active." 

This statement of a simple human fact may be put alongside 
the geographic fact that the season best fitted for physical labor, 
the southern winter, is the very period of slack routine on cotton 
farms. Industrialization and the introduction of a new agriculture 
would serve to synchronize seasonal labor routines with periods 
of more abundant energy. 

The trends of the cultural conditions of modern life, it is most 
important to note, favor the southern climate. Its climate de- 
mands a light vegetable, fruit, and milk diet, and that is the ac^ 
celerating trend of the whole American people. It can no doubt, 
as a later chapter will show, be carried to a further extent to achieve 
greater efficiency in the South. Light clothing that does not 
bind and is open to sun and air reduces immediate humidity near 
the body and permits heat loss by circulation of air. This is the 
mode set by summer clothes for women and the trends now 
are for more sensible clothes for men. It needs but that these 
styles take a definite switch from women to men, from sports to 
business, to see efficiency under the southern sun take a sudden 
spurt upward. Moreover, the sun, once feared as the climate's 
most deadly weapon, is now openly courted. The South's den- 
izens and visitors, once accommodated to heat and light, no longer 
dread it; and the ultra-violet rays no doubt tone up the whole 
system, effecting greater adjustment to climate. It may be that 
the climate will also be shown to allow far less reliance on distilled 
alcoholic liquors than permitted by colder climes. The South has 

40 Ulrich B. Phillips, Life and Labor in the Old South, p. 5. 


long realized its effect on the Negro; and its partial commitment 
to a prohibition policy, antedating that of the rest of the nation, 
may be somewhat based upon such a recognition of its maladjust- 
ment. A trend either to complete disuse or to light wines as used 
by Mediterranean races would no doubt benefit the South. The 
South notably takes rank among the states having the fewest 
deaths from alcoholism. 

With our emerging technology the time is not far distant 
when Huntington's strictures on the climate, if true, would apply 
only to field work. Factories are already scientifically controlled 
in winter as to temperature, lighting, ventilation, and humidity. 
The same control can be attained in summer. Humidity rather 
than temperature can as scientifically be taken as the control fac- 
tor in mill work. By a system of freezing pipes, operated by elec- 
tric refrigeration, the excess moisture can be condensed out of the 
air to give the humidity desired. With the degree of relative hu- 
midity regulated scientifically and ventilation controlled in ac- 
cordance with changing temperatures, the factory can be made 
to yield the best climate for human energy. Neither the expense 
nor ingenuity should exceed that required in heating buildings by 
steam. As for intellectual work, the system can as easily be ap- 
plied to dwellings and apartments as to movie theatres. Air con- 
ditioning devices have already appeared on the market. It can- 
not be emphasized too much that this is not a conquest of the 
tropics. Indeed the first application of controlled humidity for 
buildings is needed not in the South but in the treatment of 
northern cities toi prevent the annual recurrence of deaths by heat 
prostration. When the machine age gives as good care and at- 
tention to its human resources as to its invested capital, the indus- 
trial invasion may be expected to bring those things South. It 
is not as much a matter of climate as of technology, business prac- 
tice, and applying the knowledge we now possess. 


After biology, the next test of adjustment to climate may be 
historical. The best antidote against belief in the climate's de- 
termination of southern culture is the logic of events. A few ex- 
amples will show this. Only a generation ago our most able 
human geographer assigned the American Negro his geographic 


doom in these words: "The catarrhal zone north of the fortieth 
parallel soon exterminates the Negro." 41 "Negroes," she ex- 
plained, "meet a climatic barrier in America at the isotherm of 
50 centigrade. They are found in New England and Nova Scotia 
generally with a large admixture of white blood; but there and 
farther north where the climate is moist as well as cold, they show 
a fatal tendency to pulmonary disease." 42 

The entry of the Negro into northern industry and the suc- 
cessful development of Negro communities as in Chicago and 
New York in the face of overwhelming prejudice has overthrown 
this cherished dogma. The Negro's accommodation to the North 
follows upon his attainment of housing hardly as adequate as 
that of the whites. Miss Semple, of course, hopelessly confused 
the cultural and the physical environments. Thus inexorably does 
the logic of history dispose of one-factor explanations. 

Geographers have applied the same style of geographic deter- 
minism to account for the South's historic devotion to agriculture. 
This statement for example is but a generation old. 

It is a climatic line [approximately 37 north latitude] which divides 
the urban north from the rural South, the area of abundant skilled 
white labor from the area of unreliable, unskilled Negro labor. Even 
when skilled workmen are imported from the north to some particularly 
favored center of industry in the South, an enervating climate makes 
their labor far more difficult and less efficient. Even the entrepreneur 
does not escape the paralyzing touch of heat and moisture. 43 

Again the trend of history contradicts a dogmatic climatic de- 
terminism. Research has shown that the Southeast led in certain 
phases in the early development of industry, and New England 
drew ahead only as cotton culture came to occupy first place in 
southern economy. The rise of a vigorous industrialism and an 
aggressive forward movement in literature, scholarship, and uni- 
versity life in the recent South has occurred in our day without 
change of climate. 

Within the last half century there has occurred a shifting proc- 
ess in six industries. All of these industries have migrated fur- 
ther southward. The petroleum industry has moved from Penn- 

41 Ellen C. Semple, Influence of Geographic Environment, p. 37. 

"Ibid., p. 625. 

43 E. C. Semple, American History and Its Geographic Conditions, p. 346. 


sylvania to the southwest, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, 
and California. Cotton textiles have drifted from their century- 
old moorings in New England to the Piedmont of the South At- 
lantic states. Likewise the boot and shoe industry has changed 
its basis of operation from Boston to St. Louis. The lumber indus- 
try, it is true, has found a refuge in the Pacific northwest, but a 
more important section of the industry finds its locale in the 
Gulf states. Birmingham's development has drawn the center 
of gravity of iron and steel production nearer Dixie. In all these 
emerging industries the use of natural resources appears to have 
been retarded more by the socio-economic factors, such as lack of 
capital, technology, and trained labor, than the physical factor of 

In summary we have found, as might have been expected, no 
definite break between North and South in climate. The North, 
to be sure, is subject to the worst feature of the summer, the heat 
wave, while the South proves relatively free from the paralyzing 
extremes of cold visited on the North. There is no doubt, as Ward 
remarks, that the normal effect of a cold season which tends to 
stimulate and refresh is offset by the unfavorable effect of long win- 
ters on cultural routines, economic adjustment, and transporta- 
tion. 44 

None of the evidence relating to the white man's inability to 
adjust himself to the tropics seems to have any bearing on the 
South. As far as the biology of the climate goes, the student 
may well agree with Sir Patrick Manson, author of Tropical Dis- 
eases: "Acclimatization is less an unconscious adaptation of the 
physiology of the individual than an intelligent adaptation of his 
habits." That is, while weather and climate may affect man di- 
rectly, he may also change his water, his food, his clothing, his 
habitations and his surroundings, to fit climate. Climate can 
scarcely ever be considered by itself, and we are apt to enlarge 
the word to include much more than the meteorological elements. 
But clothing, food, drink, habitation, and physical artifacts go 
to make up man's culture. It is one thing to blame the climate; 
it is quite another to blame a culture that may be out of adjust- 
ment to the climate. 

"See Robert De C. Ward, Climate Considered Especially in Relation to Man, 




IT HAS long been known that there exists what may be called a 
geography of disease. The prevalence of many diseases conforms 
to a spatial pattern, and the intensity of many diseases is com- 
pletely seasonal. It can be shown that certain diseases in southern 
areas which carry over into social waste and economic efficiency 
are conditioned by geographic factors such as soil and climate. 
However, when each disease of temperate climes is traced, as 
Clemow has suggested, from the pole to the equator, it is not 
always found to become either more common or more severe. 1 
The influence of climate is more likely to be found in the num- 
ber and variety of disorders that occur than in a change in the: 
frequency and intensity of each disease. While some diseases 
may grow milder as they approach the equator, the disease list 
is always larger in warm, moist regions. This observation can 
be shown to apply with justice to the semi-tropic parts of the 

The seasonal variations in diseases do not entirely explain their 
geographic distribution. There exists a long list of diseases which 
prevail mostly in the cooler seasons of the year. These are mainly 
related to the respiratory passages influenza, diphtheria, croup, 
whooping cough, pneumonia. On the other hand, many affec- 
tions of the digestive system such as diarrhoea, dysentery, and 
cholera occur in the warmer seasons. Plague has proved a warm 
season disease in temperate climes and a cool season disease in the 
tropics. 2 

The geographic distribution of disease is something objective 
enough to be compared with the geography of animals or the ecology 

1 Frank G. Clemow, The Geography of Disease, pp. 16-17. 
*lbid., p. 17. 



of plants. The fact that the prevalence of certain diseases was re- 
stricted to hot, moist climates could not be satisfactorily explained 
until the life histories of minute organisms became known. These 
disorders, it was then shown, are caused by parasites which exist 
for long periods outside the human body, either in soil, water, or 
in the body of hosts. The geography of the disease is thus a bi- 
ological fact, existing in the limitation by temperature and moisture 
of the range of the parasite. When the life cycle of the organism 
is dependent upon passage through the body of a host, as the 
malaria microbe depends on the anopheline mosquito, the dis- 
tribution of the disease is determined largely by the geographic 
range of the host. The South has in its day possessed three such 
known disease organisms conditioned by climate; the yellow fever 
germ, the microbe of Texas Tick Fever and the malaria microbe. 
Moreover, the hookworm, while lacking an intermediary host, 
is responsive to climatic effects. It will be the purpose of this 
chapter to trace the geography of the human diseases affecting en- 
ergy and efficiency in the South. 

A brief glance at comparative death rates seems to confirm 
these trends in the geography of disease. The southern states tend 
to possess mortality rates higher than the mean for the nation. 
A glance at Table XXXVIII shows that from 1920 to 1929 Arkan- 
sas, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Kentucky were the only 
southern states whose death rates consistently fell below the na- 
tional death rate. Yet when the death rate for Negroes is excluded 
every southern state except Florida falls below both the white 
and rural death rates for the nation. To equalize the omission of 
Negroes from southern states it would probably be necessary 
to omit a comparable class, such as urban slum dwellers in the 
North. The death rate for Negroes is much higher in the north- 
ern areas. 

Certain diseases reflect the incidence of the social as well as the 
geographic environment. In deaths from tuberculosis, typhoid, 
pellagra, influenza, childbirth, and in infant mortality, southern 
states uniformly exceed the national average. In fact, the first 
ten states in any of these particulars will be found overwhelmingly 

In brief, the reason is mainly that the South is too rural, 
too sparsely settled, and too poor to possess the best medical 



















Number of States 
in Area .... 












9 5 

8 7 


10 2 


15 2 

13 7 

16 2 

16 2 






10 9 

10 5 

White . . 

8 8 

9 7 

9 4 


13 4 

14 3 

13 8 







// 4 

// 9 

// 7 

// 8 

10 8 


17 6 



18 2 

17 1 






12 4 

12 2 


10 1 

10 3 


Colored . . 

14 8 

15 9 

15 8 







11 7 

11 3 

10 6 

11 8 













13 3 

12 8 

11 8 

12 9 

11 9 


10 9 


9 4 


9 7 


17 5 

17 3 

15 8 

15 9 


Mississippi ... 






13 4 











North Carolina 






// 6 


9 4 

10 4 


Colored . 

17 7 





Oklahoma . . 








11 4 


South Carolina 

































































United States 
Registration Area. 





























facilities. If the states are ranked on the basis of the number 
of physicians to the population six southern states will be found 
among the lowest twelve; in ratio of number of people to each 


dentist eight of the last ten states are southern; in percentage of 
counties having hospitals, and in the ratio of hospital beds to popula- 
tion the last ten are again southern. In the amount of public 
health expenditures per inhabitant in 1923 the South ranked around 
the median although five states were in the last ten. In the per- 
centage of her rural population with health officers in 1927 the 
South did much better, with eight states among the first sixteen 
and none below twenty-six. By unweighted averaging of the 
diseases listed above with the general death rate Angoff and 
Mencken list as the worst fifteen Arizona, New Mexico, and the 
thirteen southern states. 3 The selection of degenerative rather than 
environmental diseases would have forced certain northern and east- 
ern states into the lower positions. Improvement in this field in the 
South means raising the standards of the rural and Negro pop- 
ulations and is as much an economic as a health problem. 

Again, in the geography of disease we must be careful not 
to regard the South as a unit. The Highland areas stand out in 
striking contrast to the rest. In the Appalachians and Ozarks 
the mortality and morbidity rates from pulmonary diseases are 
higher. In this, as in other aspects, these regions resemble colder 
temperate areas. Altitude, of course, has produced corresponding 
changes in climate. The effect of climate is, however, accentuated 
by social factors. Sparse population, scattered institutional and oc- 
cupational centers, with poor avenues of transportation, have ar- 
ranged matters so that mountain people as a matter of course 
walk long distances in bad weather. Children in going to school 
and men going to work often have to walk for miles. 4 


The attempt to trace the relations of climate to human energy 
and resulting levels of economic efficiency in the American South 
has proved singularly ineffective. Not only has the question been 
encumbered with bias and opinion, but any measurement of 
human energy in terms of achievement in production of wealth 
is indissolubly bound up with natural resources and historical 
accidents. Furthermore, climate may yet be found to yield to 

8 See Charles Angoff and H. L. Mencken, "The Worst American State," Part II, 
American Mercury, XXIV, 175-88. S. H. Hobbs, Jr., North Carolina Economic and 
Social, p. 393. 

* Campbell, The Southern Highlands, p. 211. 


diet in affecting that form of biological adequacy which we term 
human energy. It is more than possible that bio-chemistry may 
demonstrate a maladjustment between warm climates and cer- 
tain dietetic regimens. Where a maladjustment exists between 
climate and regional diet, the climatic factor must be regarded 
as secondary rather than primary. 

As a matter of fact, the effect of climate on biological adequacy 
may in reality be twofold, psychological and biological. It is 
possible that an enervating climate lowers the drive or stimulus 
to effort without in any way impairing the ability of the human 
organism to function. On the other hand, it may be held that 
continued warm moist temperature lowers the level of healthful 
functioning of the human body. The first effect might be more 
evident in intellectual work but would also serve as lack of spur 
to any type of manual activity. The first concept is probably in- 
cluded in the commonsense application of the term lazy, with its 
moral implications considered as psychological. The second view 
considers the maladaptation to climate a mild pathological condi- 
tion in which the psychological state is an effect of biological de- 
pletion. This no doubt has been the condition most often implied 
in critical comments on the inefficiency of the so-called "poor 
white" group in the South. The "nineteenth century superstition," 
often advanced as a defense for slavery, that white men could 
not work in the field in the South partakes of this view. Tha 
rise of modern medicine following the development of the germ 
theory of disease showed that economic inefficiency may be a 
pathological condition apart from the climate. "Laziness" thus 
may be actually due to a disease to which the climate is related 
as secondary rather than as a primary factor. 

The seriousness of the role which a disease plays in a society 
is estimated most often by its rank in mortality tables. This is 
true because death of the breadwinner offers the greatest possible 
shock to family life and subtracts a member from the group. It 
is characteristic of many diseases which lead to biological deple- 
tion that they do not rank particularly high as causes of death. 
Being chronic they run no spectacular course and contribute to 
the death rate indirectly by weakening the resistance of the organ- 
ism to other diseases which are finally reported as causes of 
death. A "concealed disease" in the statistical sense is one whose 


mortality rate offers no adequate index to its prevalence. If its 
recorded mortality bears but slight relation to its economic inci- 
dence the term concealed disease is doubly justified. In this sense 
both malaria and hookworm- are concealed diseases. L. O. How- 
ard has said: "A man may suffer from malaria throughout the 
greater part of his life and his productive capacity may be reduced 
from fifty to seventy-five pen cent and yet ultimately he may die 
from some entirely different immediate cause." 

Mortality records, where kept, offer no adequate index to the 
social effect of these diseases. Morbidity records, moreover, are 
discounted by prevailing attitudes. A lazy man, so runs the pop- 
ular notion, is a lazy man by virtue of inherent depravity, and 
ignorance keeps a society which holds this view from suspecting 
that anything is wrong with its most inefficient members. Such 
views, it was found, were held by many communities of their 
hookworm victims before the discovery of hookworm disease. 
If the disease is both chronic and widely prevalent in an area, 
it comes to be regarded as one of the ills the flesh is heir to, 
accepted as something to be outgrown, worn off or endured. This 
has been a commonly accepted attitude toward chills and fevers. 
Being so common, they are not reported to doctors and do not 
find their way at full value into morbidity tables. This is especially 
true of malaria, in spite of the fact that it has long been a reportable 
disease. Allowances must be made for the South, however, be- 
cause many of its states have only recently been included in the 
registration area of vital statistics. Mortality and morbidity rates 
of malaria and hookworm if fully available would be no index 
of the social and economic effect of those diseases. Accordingly, 
their importance has been underestimated. The condition due 
to their presence has been variously attributed to deficient heredity, 
climatic effects, and a lack of natural resources. 


It has long been said by certain critics of the South that at 
certain lower levels there existed biological strains not altogether 
adequate. An article by Joseph Pitt in 1808 described dirt-eating 
and anaemia among lower classes in the South and attributed these 
conditions to malnutrition. By some these strains were called 
"southern poor whites" a fighting word anywhere south of the 


Potomac. "In appearance," runs a typical description, "these peo- 
ple are usually most unprepossessing. Their skin is yellow, wrin- 
kled, and waxy; thein hair, dry and lustreless; their eyes, without 
color or sparkle; their expression, dull, stupid, and intensely mel- 
ancholy." They are characterized by extreme emaciation. Per- 
iversions of appetite were said to prevail. Dirt-eating, snuff-dip- 
ping, tobacco-chewing, alcoholism, and resin-chewing have ex- 
isted to an immoderate degree among the "sand hillers." All their 
troubles, and by their own account they have been many, were at- 
tributed by the pious to faults of character. The people themselves 
have called their ailment "the lazy sickness," "the big lazy," or 
malaria. Much nonsense, no doubt, has been written about the 
poor whites and the above description will appear to many as a 
caricature, but that certain strains and areas suffered a lowered bi- 
ological efficiency need not be denied. 

In Europe, hookworms have been known for 90 years. They 
were first recognized as human parasites in 1838 by an Italian 
physician, Angelo Dupino, who discovered them in the body of 
a peasant woman, dead o pneumonia. A later examination of a 
hundred bodies showed twenty infected with the parasites. Not 
until the techniques of hookworm ova count, demonstrated by Ital- 
ian physicians in 1878, was there discovered a method of finding 
the disease other than by autopsy. Diseases in mines, the epidemic 
in the Saint Gothard Tunnel in 1880, the discovery of dermal in- 
fection, and the development of vermifuges were developments 
which served to keep the old-world species, Ancylostoma duo- 
denote, before the European public. 

The discovery of the parasite in the new world was reserved 
for a native of North Carolina, Dr. Charles Waddell Stiles, zo- 
ologist with the United States Bureau of Animal Industry. In 
his studies of parasites infecting animals he found hookworms 
extremely numerous in sheep and dogs in the South. These 
parasites, common to men and animals in southern Europe, he 
decided must also be found to infect the population of the southern 
states. His first expression of this view before a school of med- 
icine in 1896 was allowed to go unnoticed. Dr. Stiles' examina- 
tion of Sand Hill families of the down-and-out type, however, 
was rewarded with high counts of hookworm ova. Accordingly, 
on May 10, 1902, in a paper read before the Pan-American San- 


itary Congress, he described the new species of hookworm which 
he named Necator Americanus, the American murderer. Dr. 
Stiles thought at the time he had discovered a new world species 
of the parasite, but it has since been shown that the American 
hookworm is a species from Africa, brought over by the Negro 
slaves. Not content with displaying a new zoological specimen, 
he had the boldness to point out the poor whites and attribute 
to this parasite the anaemia and inefficiency of certain low-level 
groups. The next morning the public was told by one New York 
newspaper that the "germ of laziness" had been discovered. 5 As 
was to have been expected, the reports raised both resentment and 
ridicule. Many of the people of the South took the matter as 
an assault upon southern prosperity. One southern newspaper 
carried an editorial in a dissenting voice. 

We have known the poor whites for generations, and no one has ever 
explained their condition satisfactorily. Here is a man who claims that 
he has found the cause of their worthlessness and inefficiency. Now, in 
all fairness, do not let us go of! the handle as some of our esteemed con- 
temporaries have done, but let us hear him out. Perhaps he is a fool. 
Perhaps he is an Ananias. But, perhaps he is neither. It is just possible 
that he knows what he is talking about. In justice to the poor whites, 
let us hear what he has to say. 6 

In the meantime the first public health movement directed 
against the hookworm in the western hemisphere had been de- 
veloping in Porto Rico under American auspices. After the 
American occupation Dr. Bailey K. Ashford of the United States 
Army was in charge of feeding a group of survivors of a cyclone 
disaster, threatened with starvation. He noted that anaemia per- 
sisted in spite of the efforts at relief. He carefully studied the 
patients, ascribed to the hookworm the cause of their condition, 
and wrote a detailed and accurate description of the disease, stress- 
ing its economic aspects. In 1902; after a complete study of 100 
cases, he wrote an article charging that 30 per cent of the deaths! 
in Porto Rico were due to this anaemia. His work bore fruit 
when in 1904 the legislature of the island appropriated $5,000 and 

6 See also Mark Sullivan, Our Times, III, ch. ix. 

'Quoted by Francis M. Bjorkman, "The Cure for Two Million Sick," World's 
Wor\, May 1909, pp. 11607-11. See also "Hookworm Disease and Its Control," 
International Health Board, 1922. 


appointed Doctors Ashford, King, and Guiteros to combat the 
disease. The appropriation was later renewed and increased and 
the direction gradually transferred to local authorities. In many 
ways this initial venture served as a model for the work that was 
to be done in the South. 

In the development of public health the South lagged so 
noticeably behind the nation that, apart from the resentment 
aroused, any attack on the hookworm as a social handicap seemed 
remote indeed. No anti-hookworm campaign could be expected 
to originate as a popular movement, and the states were not pre- 
pared to organize such work. The appeal then must be to philan- 
thropy. That such an appeal did not go unheeded was due to 
Dr. Stiles, Walter Hines Page, Dr. Wallace Butterick, and John 
D. Rockefeller. According to Burton Hendrick it came about in 
this way. 7 En route to a meeting of Roosevelt's Country Life Com- 
mission held at Raleigh, North Carolina, Page pointed out to Henry 
Wallace, as an example of the so-called dirt-eaters, a cadaverous 
tenant farmer who had boarded the train. Dr. Stiles broke in with 
the remark that he was merely an extreme case of hookworm disease 
and could be cured with fifty cents worth of drugs. Page quizzed 
Dr. Stiles in a long discussion and was told that two million 
people in the South were so affected. For the first time an intelli- 
gent and public-spirited southerner with influence accepted the 
"hookworm theory." At the hearing the next day Dr. Stiles, 
replying to a denial of the existence of hookworm in North Caro- 
lina, created a sensation by declaring that there were four cases 
of hookworm in the room at the moment. For their part in the 
discussion which followed, Page and Stiles, both North Caro- 
linians, were accused in the newspaper of slandering their native 
region. Governor Glenn severely criticised the Commission for 
introducing the subject, and the News and Observer published 
pictures of Page's father and grandfather to show that they lived 
long, and ergo the country was perfectly healthy. Not all followed 
the crowd. The State Board of Health issued a public announce- 
ment that Dr. Stiles had underestimated the ravages of the disease 
in the state. 

On October 26, 1909, the Rockefeller Commission for the Ex- 
termination of the Hookworm Disease was organized for a period 

7 Training of an American, pp. 370-73. 


of five years with an initial gift of a million dollars by the philan- 
thropist. Page had brought Dr. Stiles within the range of Dr. 
Buttrick's and Mr. Gates' knowledge and interest. The joke- 
smiths speculated as to how much of Epsom salts and thymol 
a million dollars would buy, and pictured the Commission on 
a junketing tour administering heavy doses to recalcitrant south- 
erners. The campaign, however, was soon to make headway in 
public favor. The first task in hookworm control was undertaken 
early in 1910 in Richmond County, Virginia. The fund was sup- 
plied by the Commission, but the work was directed by the State 
Board of Health. Early in its course the Commission worked out a 
threefold procedure: (i) to conduct surveys to show the extent of 
the disease, (2) to cure the sufferers and (3) to stop soil pollution. It 
was the idea of the board that public health is a public function, 
and its ultimate aim was to transfer the direction and financial 
support of the movement to state and county governments. In 
1910 two counties contributed $241 for the support of dispensaries; 
in 1913 there were 208 counties which contributed $43,649 for their 
support. In the period from 1910 to 1913, 556 counties in the 
South spent $110,000 in aiding the Rockefeller board. Surveys 
had shown the extent and prevalence of the disease, educational 
campaigns had been waged against soil pollution, and by March 
31, 1914, 453 counties had completed the dispensary method of 
combating hookworm. Up to 1914, 548,992 rural children had 
been examined and 39 per cent found infected. On August 12, 
1914, John D. Rockefeller announced the termination of the five 
year experimental period and created the International Health 
Board to carry on allied work all over the world. In May, 1921, 
the International Health Board transferred its part in the hook- 
worm campaign to governmental authorities, and its policies are 
now administered as a part of county health programs. 

The achievement was a social no less than a scientific triumph. 
A lack of interest and organization for public health was met 
and overcome. Although the South may not realize the debt, 
it is largely to the early Rockefeller campaigns that the section 
owes its present county public health organization. In overcom- 
ing the rather human resentment roused by the hookworm dis- 
cussion, the Commission carried through a remarkable campaign 
of popular scientific education. In this task the scientific staffs 


owed much to the simple nature of the disease. As a Report of the 
Health Board stated: 

There is probably no other disease which is so well understood in every 
detail and which can be so satisfactorily explained to a layman. Nor is 
there any other widely prevalent disease against which the lay com- 
munity can so readily and surely protect itself by simple precaution. Its 
conquest virtually resolves itself into a problem of popular education 
against soil pollution. 

The simplicity of the disease, Rockefeller millions, and the ex- 
act technique worked out by the scientific experts were factors 
in making the war on hookworms an impressive public health 
triumph. Re-surveys from 1918 to 1922 of 66 counties surveyed 
in the period 1910-1914, showed an average decrease in infection 
of 47.5 per cent. In Georgia, Grady County showed a decrease 
from 99.4 to 31.3 per cent infection, Pamlico in North Carolina fell 
from 62.9 to 9.3 per cent, and Lee County, Alabama, fell from 
61.8 to 15.5 per cent. This decrease in numbers was accompanied 
by a proportionate decrease in severity of infection. Although the 
examination of drafted men from the South indicated that, de- 
pending on locality, 12 to 33 per cent of the adult males were in- 
fected, the majority of the cases were not severe. In its reports 
covering the year 1926 the International Health Board announced 
the virtual conquest of the disease in these words: 

At the present time it is fair to say that hookworm disease has almost 
disappeared from the United States and is rapidly coming under control 
in many parts of the world. But the great achievement is not the social 
and economic rehabilitation of the more than six or seven million people 
who have been treated for the disease during the past ten or fifteen years; 
it is the development of administrative measures that will prevent mil- 
lions yet unborn from ever suffering from its ravages. 8 

The reversal in public attitudes was no less an achievement. 
Dr. Stiles, who had narrowly missed becoming one of the martyrs 
of science, received at the hands of the University of North Caro- 
lina an honorary LL.D., and from the University of Rich- 
mond, an M.D. degree. Publicists like Gerald W. Johnson pointed 
out that the period of conquest of hookworm corresponded with 
the period of economic advance in the South. The most valuable 

8 P. 6. 


single index of the change in attitude is found in the creation of 
full-time health departments in southern counties. "The evolu- 
tion of simple hookworm posts," says a report, "into county 
agencies for conserving public health has been one of the gratify- 
ing developments in the Southern states." 9 At the close of 1926 
there existed in the United States 341 counties employing such 
services, and of these, 163 counties were found in twelve south- 
ern states. Representing local units, financed partly from local 
funds, employing local doctors, these organizations encountered 
less and less antagonism in their attack on hookworm and malaria. 
By January i, 1928, the number of county health units for the 
twelve states had increased to 258, much over half of the 414 
units in the whole United States. Only Ohio with 47 county 
health departments was leading nine southern states. A study 
of the map shows that the counties having health departments in 
the South are well distributed along coastal and alluvial lowlands 
and follow rather closely the distribution of malaria. 


In the course of its conquest a great many facts were gathered 
on the geography of hookworm disease. Climate affects distribu- 
tion of hookworm by means of the relation which temperature 
bears to the development of larvae in the soil. Study of its 
world-wide distribution by the International Health Board nar- 
rowed hookworm disease to a climatic zone extending 36 north 
and 30 south of the equator and containing nine hundred million 
people, half of the world's population. Extensive investigations 
have shown that larvae in the infective stage are not to be found 
in the soil of southern Alabama between late October and early 
May. A minimum temperature of 40 F. at night is sufficiently 
low to check their development. Infection is thus shown to be 
acquired only during the summer. 10 It is slowly acquired and 
as slowly lost. Frequent dry periods during the spring were also 
found to check hookworm development entirely. 

The amount of rainfall thus proved another important geo- 
graphic control in the distribution of hookworm disease. Texas, 
for example, can be divided into an eastern area of heavy rainfall, 

8 International Health Board, Sixth Report, 1919, p. 4. 

M International Health Board, Eleventh Report, 1924, p. 112. 


40 to 50 inches, a middle belt of 20 to 40 inches precipitation, and 
a West Texas with 10 to 20 inches rainfall. Hookworm infec- 
tion is medium in the area of heavy rainfall, light in the middle 
area, and absent in the arid west. Regions along the coast, al- 
though characterized by heavy rainfall, are found to be areas of 
light infection if the soil is impregnated with salt. 11 

In the ecology of the disease, soil proved to have an importance 
hardly second to that of climate. Studies in the laboratory have 
demonstrated that humus, sand, loam, and clay have markedly 
different effects upon the number of hookworm larvae which de- 
velop to the infective stage. This has been demonstrated in the 
field by studies of two southern states, Alabama and Tennessee. 
Throughout these two regions the habits of rural sanitation, the 
temperature, and the rainfall are such that they affect the dis- 
semination of hookworm infestation about equally. Of Tennes- 
see's ten soil provinces the only areas of high infestation are 
Unaka Mountain Range and the Cumberland Plateau, both prov- 
inces with sandy soils. Of the six soil provinces into which Ala- 
bama is divided the great incidence of infection is found in the 
sandy Upper and Lower Coastal Plains. Children who had lived 
all their lives in regions of fine heavy clay soils failed to show 
heavy infestation. The efficiency of soil as a media for the culture 
of hookworm is thus found definitely related to texture of the 
top soil. An additional index to hookworm incidence is thus of- 
fered health officers in the South who can determine by culture 
methods what soils are favorable to hookworm development. 12 


Hookworm disease bears as close a relation to social factors 
as to geographic conditions. Standards of living, density of pop- 
ulation, race, sex and age differences have been shown by various 
studies to operate in conditioning the spread and intensity of 
the infection. Negroes are hardly ever found so heavily infected 
that their condition approaches disease. Negro children "though 

11 Sixth Report, 1919, p. 59. 

u E. R. Pickard and J. Austin Kerr, "The Incidence and Intensity of Hookworm 
Infestation in the Various Soil Provinces of Tennessee," Journal of Preventive Med- 
icine, I, 185-203. Donald L. Augustine and Wilson G. Smillie, "The Relation of 
the Type of Soils of Alabama to the Distribution of Hookworm Disease," American 
Journal of Hygiene, VI, 36-62. 


many of them were infected, as a rule had far fewer hookworms 
than white children living in a similar environment." 13 This 
partial immunity of the Negro to hookworm disease is a regularly 
observed phenomena and is apparently world-wide. It is attributed 
by Darling to slightly different sanitary customs, and by Payne 
to racial immunity. The condition still awaits adequate scientific 

For the white group, living standards operate as might be ex- 
pected. The wearing of shoes prevents the entrance of larvae 
through the pores in the soles of the feet. Soil pollution is found 
to be less prevalent in areas occupied by families whose higher 
standards include better habits of home sanitation. There exists, 
however, a significant rural-urban difference in infection rates 
which cannot be explained entirely on the basis of levels of living. 
Examinations have shown town children either negative or in- 
fected lightly as compared to heavy infection for country chil- 
dren of the same climatic and soil areas. Wearing of shoes is 
not a factor. Density of population operates to change customs. 
Where people live in close proximity, decency prevents promiscuous 
isoil pollution, and village children have little opportunity to come 
in contact with larvae-infected soils. 14 Thus, like many things 
in the South, the prevalence of hookworm disease may be at- 
tributed to the survival of frontier conditions. Early in his studies, 
Dr. Stiles pointed out that children in mill villages in the South 
even when employed in the mills ranked higher in qualities of 
health than the child on the farm. Intensive study of 396 mill vil- 
lage children showed that hookworm disease was limited to those 
who had been in the village less than three years. 

In none of the studies has sex been found to be a factor of 
importance. Age is a much more important consideration. Few 
children under five are found to be infected; and after eighteen 
the percentage and severity of the infection decrease. It must be 
remembered that the worms do not breed within the body, but on 
the contrary the ova must hatch in the soil from which the larvae 
find their way into the body. With the coming of adulthood, 
accordingly it is to be expected that changed habits of clothing and 
sanitation will decrease danger of infection from the soil and the 

13 Twelfth Report, 1925, p. n, flf. 

14 Eleventh Report, 1924, p. 116. 


previous infection will in the course of time be gradually elim- 
inated. The percentage of hookworm infection on the basis of 
age levels shows the following range: 

Age .......... 6-7 8-9 10-11 12-13 I 4' I 5 

Per Cent ...... 38.2 50.3 57.1 62.7 64.7 65.2 

In its 1924 Report the International Health Board stated the 
conclusion of its social studies. Severe hookworm infection in the 
United States occurs only in children, rural, white, and of school 
age in the southern states. While a far cry from the two million 
sick souls of the first period of hookworm agitation, it seems 
much nearer the scientific statement of fact. 

Possibly the best summing up of the geography and the sociology 
of hookworm is found in the formula of the application of its find- 
ings to social engineering. The following is the typical procedure 
advised for the public health official in his attack on hookworm. 

He should first inform himself of the mean yearly temperature and the 
rainfall of the area to be worked. He should then study the types of 
soil in the area to discover whether hookworm larvae can readily develop 
in them to the infective stage. These preliminary observations, together 
with a brief study of the sanitary habits of the inhabitants, will enable 
him to estimate with considerable accuracy the economic importance of 
hookworm infection to the community. His next step is the microscopic 
examination of about 10 per cent of the total population to determine the 
average intensity of the infection obtaining. 

If the average hookworm index of the persons examined is less than 100 
no treatment need be administered in the community, since no true hook- 
worm disease exists there and sanitation and education will slowly and 
gradually eliminate the light infections. If the average worm content is 
found to be over 100, one standard treatment may be administered to all 
moderately infected persons and two treatments to those having heavy 
infections. This will reduce the infection of the community to the point 
of economic cure. Only sanitation and education can permanently hold 
it at this point. But reinfection is slowly acquired, and even though no 
sanitary measures are instituted, some time will elapse before it becomes 
necessary to give another course of treatment. 

The relation that hookworm infection bears to general health 
and to intellectual achievement has been indicated by a series 
of studies. In the military cantonments during the World War 


the incidence of pneumonia and its mortality rate were found to 
be much higher among southern than northern troops. Measles 
occurred more frequently (in the ratio of two and one half to one) 
among men who had hookworm disease. Measles patients who 
suffered also from hookworm were twice as susceptible to pneu- 
monia and kindred diseases as men free from intestinal infection. 15 

The whole question of the relation of hookworm disease to 
mental retardation may be subjected to scrutiny by tests of the intel- 
ligence and achievement of groups living under the same climatic 
conditions. In one woman's college in the South the average stand- 
ing of fifty-six infected students was 78 per cent compared to 89 
per cent for students found free of infection. In a southern acad- 
emy 25 infected boys averaged 64 per cent in their studies as 
compared with 86 per cent for the same number of boys found hook- 
worm free. In the case of 10,000 men at Camp Travis, Texas, a 
comparison of the hookworm survey with the psychological tests 
showed that soldiers with hookworm disease ranked 33 per cent 
lower. A series of mental tests on Goddard's Revision of the Binet- 
Simon Scale of the school children of Queensland, Australia, 
showed lightly infected cases to be retarded 9.3 months while 
heavily infected cases were retarded 23.4 months. The longer 
the infection had persisted in the child the greater retardation 
was found to exist. 16 


It may be that some diseases exert a selective influence upon 
the race by weeding out the weak. Such cannot be said of either 
hookworm or malaria. Malaria "strongly resembles hookworm 
disease in its wide distribution and in the fact that it is an anaemia 
producing disease most prevalent among children and therefore 
preying upon the race most heavily during the period of physical 
and mental growth." 17 Dr. Andrew Balfour, director of the Lon- 
don School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, estimates the an- 
nual cost of sickness and death due to malaria in the British Em- 
pire at $300,000,000 and sets the world death rate from malaria at 

15 Report of the Surgeon General, U. S. Army, 1917, p. 131. 

18 Rockefeller Foundation, Report, 1918, p. 127. See also W. G. Smillie and 
C. R. Spence, "Mental Retardation in School Children Infested With Hookworms," 
Journal of Educational Psychology, XVII, 314-27. 

17 Rockefeller Foundation, Annual Report, 1915, p. 72. 


2,ooo,ooo. 18 Dr. Woods Hutchinson believes that malaria has 
probably killed more human beings than all the wars that have 
ever devastated the globe, while Dr. Henry R. Carter holds that 
it is the only disease capable of rendering a region uninhabitable. 
These two infections, hookworm and malaria, in the judgment 
of the International Health Board, "constitute what is probably 
the most serious obstacle to the development of civilization in the 
regions where they prevail." 19 

The history of malaria in America has been that of the fron- 
tier. It is a pestilence lurking on the outskirts of civilization, dog- 
ging the footsteps of the colonist, the pioneer, and the rural dweller. 
The first settlers of the tidewater South were indeed fortunate, 
according to T. J. Wertenbaker, if during the first year they es- 
caped the "Virginia sickness." 20 The mortality of the early set- 
tlers on the James reached as high as 75 per cent at one time. 
"The low and marshy ground, the swarming mosquitoes, the 
hot sun, the unwholesome drinking water combined to produce 
an unending epidemic of dysentery and malaria." Of the Charles- 
ton district the Lords Proprietors wrote under date of May I3th, 

Men will dye in Carolina for some time faster than they are borne or 
grow up, and if none come to you your numbers will by degrees bee so 
diminished that you will be easily cut of? by the Indians or pyrats. 21 

A physician with several years experience in tidewater Vir- 
ginia during colonial times wrote: 

The acute diseases in these unhealthful parts of North America generally 
turn to intermittents, which are not mortal even in twenty months; but 
in a few months more they may bring on that cachexy, with an ema- 
ciated habit, a swelled belly, and a pale sallow complexion, which is the 
characteristic of the bad state of health in all the southern and maritime 
parts of North America. 22 

With time there came a type of acquired immunity which may 
have resulted in making the disease chronic rather than acute. 

18 International Health Board, Twelfth Report, pp. 71-72. 

19 Fourth Annual Report, p. 126. 

80 The Planters of Colonial Virginia, pp. 39-40. 
81 W. J. Rivers, History of South Carolina, p. 98. 

"John Mitchell, M.D., The Present Status of Great Britain and North America, 
p. 191. 


At least Governor Berkeley so held in 1671. "There is not oft 
seasoned hands (as we term them) that die now, whereas not 
one of five escaped the first year." 23 Much of the later improvements 
in conditions can be attributed to the introduction of Peruvian 
bark, as quinine was first called. 

As settlement spread southward and westward this story could 
be repeated again and again though fortunately often in milder 
form. Frederick Law Olmsted reported graphically the death 
dealing efTect of the miasma on the rice plantations of South Caro- 

"I would as soon stand fifty feet from the best Kentucky rifleman and be 
shot at by the hour, as to spend a night on my plantation in summer," a 
Charleston gentleman said to me. And the following two instances of 
the deadly work the miasma sometimes does were given to me by 
another: A party of six ladies and gentlemen went out of town to spend 
a day at the mansion of a rice-planter, on an island. By an accident to 
their boat, their return before night was prevented, and they went back 
and shut themselves within the house, had fires made, around which 
they sat all night, and took every other precaution to guard against the 
miasma. Nevertheless, four of them died from its effects, within a week; 
and the other two suffered severely. Two brothers owned a plantation 
on which they had spent the winter; one of them, as summer ap- 
proached, was careful to go to another residence every night; the other 
delayed to do so until it was too late. One morning he was found to be 
ill; a physician could not be procured until late in the afternoon, by 
which time his recovery was hopeless. The sick man besought his 
brother not to hazard his own life by remaining with him; and he was 
obliged, before the sun set, to take the last farewell, and leave him with 
the servants, in whose care, in the course of the night, he died. 24 

The whole advancing fringe of the frontier was, in a phrase of 
Hutchinson's, colored with malarial tinge. In Hulbert's opinion, 
"chills and fevers" and "mylary" combined with limited diet to 
give the pioneer race a gauntness of frame and a sallow complex- 
ion. Even today, Campbell points out, a highlander in the Appa- 
lachians feels disgraced by a fat son. The literature left by trav- 
elers through the lowland South is full of descriptions of the in- 
roads of malaria. Lowland fevers, said Amos Stoddard in his 
Sketches of Louisiana, were "induced by pestilential vapors which 

23 Cited by Wertenbaker, op. cit., p. 39. 

24 A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States, II, 46. 


arise from the rivers and from the decayed vegetable substances." 
The first settlers were dying "by inches of chills and fevers"; set- 
tlers from the North had to undergo a long period of acclimatiza- 
tion, but sooner or later "comes the fever." 25 

The sallow emaciated countenances that looked disturbed by the mon- 
strous quantities of calomel they were accustomed to take, and the feeble 
and uncertain steps with which they went about their vocations betrayed 
how dearly they paid by the loss of health for the privilege they enjoyed 
of occupying a fertile soil. 26 

The South then had her frontier conditions augmented by cli- 
mate and the low living standards of slaves. In the absence of 
statistics history can give us only impressions of the extent of dis- 
eases peculiar to the South. On the basis of existing records, 
however, their location can be assigned to hot, flat, and humid 
areas such as rich bottom lands. Old New Orleans possessed an 
estimated death rate three times that of London, New York, or 
Philadelphia and was called the graveyard of the Southwest. Life 
insurance companies charged one per cent more premium on 
southern risks. By 1817 Savannah with a population of 5,000 had 
begun to eliminate the rice fields in its vicinity. The municipal- 
ity set aside $200,000 to recompense planters who abandoned the 
crop. Ten years after, the city's mortality rate, it was estimated, 
had dropped to half its former figure. By 1850 a Mr. J. C. Sim- 
monds had calculated that death and illness cost New Orleans 
$45,000,000 annually. Strangely enough he used the value of 
slaves in estimating values of whites lost by disease. Cholera also 
took its sporadic toll in the old South. "The appearance of this 
scourge of nations was a truly terrifying phenomena. Overseers 
and slaves died within a few hours of the first appearance of symp- 
toms." When cholera attacked Bishop Folk's plantation in 1849 
there were 220 of his 356 Negroes who contracted the disease in 
two weeks and 70 died. Between strange tropical diseases and 
strange diseases of Negroes the South was much in need of med- 
ical skill. Between 1823 and 1844 there arose the Medical College 
of the State of South Carolina, the Medical Department of the 
University of Virginia, medical schools at Augusta, New Orleans, 
Richmond, and the Charity Hospital at New Orleans. Nevertheless, 

25 P. 231. 

26 George William Featherstonhaugh, Excursions Through the Slave States, I, 302. 


the rapid extension of the frontier meant an insufficiency of doctors 
which gradually led to the abandonment of licensing by the states. 
By 1850 practically anyone who so desired was allowed to practice 
medicine. Many Negro slaves received the best of medical care, 
often on the contract basis. In spite of much talk on the subject 
southern medical colleges never introduced any courses dealing 
with the diseases of the South or the Negro. 27 

Malaria was the disease of the plantation, the frontier, and the 
scattered rural homes. Where sparse population gave way to 
cities in the South, yellow fever arose and appeared to drive be- 
fore it the miasmatic fever. Dr. Josiah C. Nott of Mobile, a 
famous scientist of the old South, described this curious phenom- 

Yellow fever is generated in crowded populations, perhaps exclusively; 
while bilious fever, on the contrary, is the indigenous product of southern 
soils. In fact, there would seem to be something antagonistic in the 
causes of these diseases. Generally, along the southern seaboard, when 
the forest is first leveled, and a town commenced, intermittents and re- 
mittents spring up, and in some places of a malignant and fatal type. 
As the population increases the town spreads, and draining and paving 
are introduced, yellow fever, the mighty monarch of the South, who 
scorns the rude field and forest, plants his sceptre in the centre, and 
drives all other fevers to the outskirts. As the town grows, the domain 
of yellow fever spreads, and the others recede. There is a middle ground 
where the two meet and struggle for supremacy. Here we see all imag- 
inable grades, from the simple intermittent up to the most malignant 
yellow fever; but whenever they come in contact, intermittents and 
remittents are compelled to wear the livery of the master spirit. 28 

To Nott also belongs the honor of having, in the New Orleans 
Medical and Surgical Journal of March, 1848, offered for the first 
time the insect hypothesis of the transmission of yellow fever. 
When the biology of malaria and yellow fever became known 
it was found that many of the prejudices and half-lights of the 
frontiersman had excellent foundation in fact. Yellow fever and 
malaria did contend for mastery, with yellow fever ruling the 
town and malaria the plantation. Yellow fever was found to be 

" R. H. Shryock, "Medical Practice in the Old South," South Atlantic Quarterly, 
XXIX, 160-71. 

28 "Value of Life in the South," J. D. B. DeBow, Resources of the Southern 
States, III, 86. 


carried by Aedes aegypti, a town mosquito. Originally a tree-hole 
breeder, it adapted itself to the gutters, barrels, cisterns, and tin 
cans of man so thoroughly that its entire life cycle may take place 
indoors. The Anopheles, carriers of malaria, are swamp mosquitoes 
noted for the extent and variety of their breeding places. 29 As 
the bayous of the frontier gave way to the gutters and cisterns of the 
southern city the phenomena described by Dr. Nott actually en- 

The superstitious beliefs of the frontier were in many ways 
more than half truths. 30 If it was believed malaria was caused 
by tropic heat, the Anopheles possesses a range limited by climatic 
factors. If malaria was thought to be caused by decaying vegetable 
matter in stagnant swamps, at least such swamps are the breeding 
places of Anopheles. Mai-aria means bad air. Malaria, the pioneer 
held, was caused by the miasma which rises out of the marshy 
ground at night. Night air must be avoided to the extent of 
closing windows, stuffing keyholes, and building fires around 
the house. The answer was simple. After dark came the hour 
at which the malaria mosquito flies abroad. Sleepers in second 
and third story bed rooms did not so often acquire malaria be- 
cause bad air did not rise to these heights. It was of course the 
mosquitoes and not the air which failed to rise so high. While 
the pioneers held that strong winds swept the miasma away, we 
substitute mosquitoes for miasma. Other alleged causes, such as 
bad drinking water, damp soils under the house, freshly plowed 
sod, all can be traced to their connection with stagnant pools. 

Other baffling ways of malaria were to be explained by its bi- 
ology. Without knowing how it operated, dwellers in the tropics 
had long realized that repeated doses of Peruvian bark repressed 
the attack of malaria. Another puzzling set of facts led to a fa- 
talistic attitude toward the disease. Early in his illness a patient 
became resigned to the fact that he would have chills and fever 
every fourth day; another found his attacks came every second 
day; a third had irregular chills, while a fourth unhappy victim 
expected a paroxysm every day. The French surgeon, Laveran, 
with the army of occupation in Algeria, discovered in 1880 the clue 
to these mysteries. In the blood of all malarial sufferers he found 

**Use of Fish for Mosquito Control, Rockefeller Foundation, 1924, p. 7. 
30 See Woods Hutchinson, Preventable Disease, pp. 297-99. 


a microbe which burrowed in the red corpuscles. Every 48 hours 
a crop of spores ripened, burst out o the corpuscles, and by its 
effects on blood and tissue caused the famous two-day chills; an- 
other microbe hatched every fourth day; and another ripened 
intermittently. The poor victim of chills every day was found 
to be infected with two crops working turn about on an alter- 
nating schedule. Quinine, it was found, when administered in 
the traditional doses entered the blood stream sufficiently either 
to kill the spores or prevent sporalation. 31 After Gogli, Marchiafava, 
and Celli aided in establishing these facts, Ronald Ross working 
in India from 1897 to ^99 discovered that mosquitoes carried the 
microbes from bird to bird and from man to man. 


With the course of time malaria has become increasingly local- 
ized in the southern states. "Fifty years ago," says a public health 
expert, "the disease prevailed further north than it does now. The 
endemic area extended to the great Lakes and Canada. Ague 
was in this section the most common of ailments and quinine the 
most universal of household remedies." 32 Iowa, Minnesota, the 
Dakotas, Utah, Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming were also in- 
cluded in the infected areas. With the increase of knowledge 
and the advance of public health organizations, malaria is follow- 
ing the geographic trend and retreating to its most inaccessible 

Unfortunately for the South, topography and the waters of the 
land have aided climate in localizing malaria in that area. With the 
exception of the Pacific Coast and Great Lakes system the United 
States drains through the southern states. The great Mississippi 
system and the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal rivers meander slug- 
gishly through level coastal plains on the slow route to the sea. 
A map of the wet lands which }. Russell Smith 33 terms enemy 
country, shows that 69.5 per cent of all swamp lands are in ten 
southern states. Only two states, Michigan and Minnesota, ex- 
ceed any of these ten. Also 64.9 per cent of all the wet lands 
of any type are in the same ten states. Again only 25.5 per cent of all 
the land area in the United States has an average annual rainfall 

81 Woods Hutchinson, op. cit., pp. 295-96. 

32 John W. Trask, "Malaria," Public Health Reprint, No. 382, 1916, p. 3. 

83 North America, p. 160. 


of from 40 to 60 inches. With the exception of Texas and Okla- 
homa all southern states have that much precipitation. The areas 
of 50 to 60 inches precipitation, comprising 8.4 per cent of our 
land area, fall almost wholly within the limits of Tennessee, Ala- 
bama, Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and the southern 
highland area. 34 The climatic range of malaria is indicated by 
the comparative length of the growing season in the southern area: 
in the subtropic coast 240 days and more, in the coastal plains 210 
days or more, and in the Uplands usually 180 days. 35 

The distribution of deaths from malaria as analyzed by the 
Public Health Service locates definitely the geography of the dis- 
ease. 36 The whole South is in the endemic area, but certain "areas 
of high prevalence stand out as definite foci surrounded by large 
areas of moderate prevalence." Here is made the connection be- 
tween death and geography for such areas are usually the "broad 
flats about the lower reaches of sluggish rivers." There are five 
such regions in the South: the Pamlico Sound region of North 
Carolina, the Savannah River between South Carolina and Geor- 
gia, the Flint River region of South Georgia, the coast of west 
Florida about the mouths of the Apalachicola and Suwannee rivers, 
and most important of all, the widely extending flood plain of 
the lower Mississippi with areas reaching up the valleys of its 
tributaries, the Tennessee, the Arkansas, the St. Francis, the Black 
and the Red rivers. 37 Again these figures show that malaria is 
essentially a rural disease. Prolonged and desperate cases tend 
to drift into city hospitals where death adds to urban mortality 
rates; but, in spite of this fact, there are six times as many deaths 
from malaria in the rural areas as in the cities of these regions. 38 


Mortality rates of malaria may be relied upon to show geo- 
graphic distribution, but they afford insufficient index of the 
severity and far reaching influence of the disease. From 1904 to 
1914, for example, there were in the army of continental United 
States 13,000 cases of malaria from which only two deaths re- 

84 ibid., p. 246. 

35 J. Russell Smith, op. cit., map, p. 175. 

36 Kenneth F. Maxcy, "Distribution of Malaria in the United States" as indicated 
by Mortality Reports, Reprint 839, May 25, 1923, p. 5. 

87 Ibid., pp. 8-9. ^Ibid., p. n. 


suited. 39 The case fatality rate in the United States has been 
shown to be among the lowest of diseases, about 0.5 per cent. The 
presence of a few cases of smallpox makes an epidemic with all 
the public health forces mobilized, while the continued presence 
of malaria in many southern states goes unnoticed. "Plague, lep- 
rosy, or typhus arouses to instant activity the press, the people, and 
the health authorities, while commoner diseases, though more de- 
structive, receive far less consideration. To fear death and the dis- 
ease associated with death and to give less consideration to the 
ailments which are not directly mortal are common character- 
istics." 40 

Mississippi is one state in the Union whose Health Department 
has for a long time consistently demanded morbidity reports from 
its physicians. To the state's geography may be attributed its 
especially high malarial rate. "The returns constitute," says Fred- 
erick L. Hoffman, "the first reasonably complete morbidity index 
by counties available for any single American state at the present 
time." The trend of the statistics shows a marked progress toward 
the control of the disease. From the three year average for 1914-16 
to that for 1928-30 the case rate of malaria per 10,000 white popula- 
tion decreased from 813.4 to 496.0, a decrease of 39 per cent. In the 
same period the morbidity rates for Negroes decreased from 788.9 to 
338.4, a loss of 57 per cent. With an even greater decline in mortality 
has gone a decrease in the percentage of fatalities per case, from .71 
per cent to .31 for whites and from 1.07 to .50 for colored. Negroes 
tend to have a fatality case rate almost twice as high as that of the 
whites. The following rates of mortality and morbidity per 100,- 
ooo, white and colored, have been calculated from data furnished 
by Mississippi Public Health authorities: 

The much greater importance of malaria morbidity is evident 
at a glance. Contrary to common opinion the Negro is as sus- 
ceptible to malaria as the Nordic. Aldo Castellani, Professor of 
Tropical Medicine, Tulane University, writes: "In my experience 
the Negro is not immune to either malaria or yellow fever. In 
malarial countries adult Negroes may appear to be partially im- 
mune to malaria because they have had it when they were chil- 
dren." 41 

88 John W. Trask, "Malaria," Public Health Report 38, 1916, p. 5. 

10 Ibid., p. 2. 

- Letter to writer, March 18, 1929. 






Per 10,000 

Per 10,000 

Per 10,000 


Per 10,000 

Per 10,000 



651 6 

623 1 

3 91 


679 1 



925 5 

6 11 


854 7 


9 -3 



784 8 

835 5 

4 11 


74.3 1 


628 3 

625 3 

2 44 


631 8 






631 6 

2 33 


687 8 

c 7 




654 6 

3 69 


681 7 

6 8(1 


1922 . . 

576 4 

577 9 

2 79 


37"> 1 




512 9 

524 6 

2 09 


501 9 





451 8 

1 11 


397 5 

7 73 




398 8 

1 15 


359 4 

3 12 



369 7 

389 6 

1 34 


358 8 




449 1 

462 2 

1 36 


446 4 

3 00 




529 5 

1 22 



387 6 

1 95 







179 3 

1 83 

1 02 


Malaria in the United States is of too mild a nature to permit 
of its accurate measurement by the death rate. In the same way 
it is doubtful if its effects upon human energy and output can be 
measured even by the ascertained rates of morbidity. "We have 
no idea," wrote an investigator in 1903, "of the loss occasioned by 
malaria in unfitting men for long or energetic hours of labor. 
Certainly there is no disease known to man that more insidiously 
undermines his constitution and lessens his ability to produce his 
full measure of wealth than malaria." 42 One death from pneu- 
monia, it is known, ordinarily corresponds to about 125 sick days; 
typhoid fever equals 450 to 500 work days lost; tuberculosis amounts 
to more among whites, less among Negroes. A death from malaria, 
however, implies from 2,000 to 4,000 sick days. 43 

a Glenn W. Herrick, "The Relation of Malaria to Agriculture and Other Indus- 
tries of the South," Popular Science, 62, p. 521. 

48 H. R. Carter, "The Malaria Problem of the South," Public Health Reprint No. 

552, Aug. 22, 1919. 


The relation of malaria to industrial efficiency may be aptly 
shown by field investigation in three different types of industry; a 
mill village in North Carolina, a railroad in the Mississippi Valley, 
and a Delta plantation. 

Roanoke Rapids, N. C., is a mill village, or rather a group of mill vil- 
lages, with a total of over 4,000 population. Prior to the malaria work 
the population was continually changing. Wages were good, work was 
abundant, and people came, but they developed malaria and would not 
stay. The mill managers estimated the efficiency of their employees at 
from 40 to 60 per cent during the four unhealthful months. During this 
time the machines were constantly idle. The mill physicians, who at- 
tended employees without charge, averaged during the summer months 
of 1912 and 1913, fifty calls per day for malaria. During 1914, the first 
year of malaria work (control of mosquitoes was depended on), there 
were still a few cases (33) of malaria, relapses from 1913. The efficiency 
rate rose to 90 or 95 per cent, and the average number of calls for the 
same months was three daily. In 1915 there was no question of efficiency 
to be considered it was normal. The average of doctors' calls for 
malaria was one in three days. All these [sic] were newcomers and 
were believed to have been contracted [sic] elsewhere. 

One of the millmen writes: "The money spent in your campaign against 
malaria here gave the quickest and most enormous returns I have ever 
known from any investment." It did pay in the first year from 100 to 
400 per cent. 

The cost here was 80 cents per head for the first year and 27 cents per 
head for the second year. The efficiency of the mill was raised from 50 
to 100 per cent. 44 

On the Missouri Pacific lines south of St. Louis, malaria from 1900 to 
1922 furnished 33 per cent of all hospital admissions and 45 per cent of 
all cases of illness. Moreover it was found that over 4,000 employees 
received out-patient treatment for malaria each year. A census taken in 
1921 of the four southern divisions showed that only 18 per cent of those 
affected with malaria entered a hospital and only 68 per cent of those 
infected ever visited a doctor. Of all employees interviewed 32 per cent 
gave positive histories. Of various occupational groups the bridge and 
building crews and extra gangs had the highest hospital rate, 79.7 per 
cent, and the shopmen the lowest, n per cent. Statements from fore- 
men indicated that malaria constitutes an enormous charge against the 

44 Ibid. t p. 7. 


cost of operation by reducing the efficiency of labor, by producing a 
shortage of labor, and by creating a high labor turnover. Employees on 
malarious divisions are dissatisfied because of frequent sickness in the 
family and excessive expenditures for medical attention. 45 

One remarkable experiment has been conducted to ascer- 
tain the social and economic incidence of malaria in agriculture. 
Under the direction of D. L. Van Dine a controlled study was 
made of an entire plantation on the Mississippi near Vicksburg. 
With perfect cooperation between owner, physician, microscopist, 
and entomologist it was possible to secure a remarkable set of rec- 
ords. A complete collection of data relating to mosquito fre- 
quency, species, density, location, and direction of flight was se- 
cured and correlated with an admirable set of climatic data as to 
minimum temperature, humidity, rainfall, sunshine, cloudiness, 
and wind direction. 

Next were gathered data on disease history of the human fac- 
tors, recent malarial history, blood smears, fever duration, recent 
ingestion of quinine, use of chill tonics, and ultimate termination 
of the disease, recovery or death. In addition a complete survey 
included every house in relation to environmental conditions and 
mosquitoes. Data were gathered as to essential economic factors: 
the relation of the family to the plantation, length of residence, 
value of the land, the normal return per acre, and present return. 
Additional studies included labor requirements of cotton, corn, 
and oats. Finally the health and economic data were balanced in 
a study of losses to plantation and family from labor shortage, 
crop shortage, decreased efficiency, medical expenses, nursing, gen- 
eral ill health, and deaths. The information constitutes, as Hoff- 
man has said, the most thorough collection of data on malaria in 
its social and economic relations extant. During 1914 the experi- 
ment had under observation 74 tenant families who cultivated 
1,800 acres of land, of which 1,191 acres were under a tenant system 
and 609 acres under direct supervision of the plantation. 

The tenants averaged 16 acres per family, and the 74 families included 
a total of 299 individuals. The crops grown consisted of 743 acres of 
cotton and 448 acres of corn under the tenant system and 80 acres of 

45 A. W. Fuchs, "Malaria Survey of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, 1922," Public 
Health Bulletin /jj, May 1923. 


cotton and 209 acres of corn, 200 acres of oats, 70 acres of cowpeas and 50 
acres of lespedeza hay under the day-wage system. All time was reduced 
to adult time, or man days of labor. The time of a male over eighteen 
years of age was figured at full time, a male from twelve to eighteen 
years as one-half adult time, and from eight to twelve years as one-fourth. 
The time of a female was figured as one-half the time of a male. Re- 
ducing all the available labor on the plantation to adult time, the result- 
ing equivalent labor was two adults to each of the 74 tenant families. 
The actual time lost through malaria consisted of 970 days for those 
treated by the plantation physician, 487 days representing cases not re- 
ported to the physician and 385 days lost by non-malarial members of the 
family in attending those who had the disease. There was a total loss 
of 1,842 days, which, reduced to adult time, and not taking account of 
illness in members of the families under eight years of age, amounted to 
i, 066 days of adult time, from May to October, inclusive. The time lost 
averaged 14.4 adult days for each family. There were 166 cases of 
malaria in 138 persons out of a total of 299 members of the tenant 
families. There was a loss of time equivalent to 6.42 adult days for each 
case of malaria. 

In relating malaria morbidity to economic efficiency, the effect 
of the loss of time from work can be measured by the difference 
between the available labor and the labor requirements of the 
crops. When a surplus of labor exists over that required in cultiva- 
tion, the losses from malaria may be charged against the family 
budget but not against the crops. During four months of the 
year the time lost from malaria falls at the period when there ex- 
ists a deficiency of labor and the demands of the crops are greatest. 
In the cycle of cotton culture, the periods of chopping and hoeing, 
boll weevil control and picking fall during the months of greatest 
malaria incidence. By adjusting the seasonal cycle of malaria 
incidence to the labor cycle of cotton Mr. Van Dine was able to 
arrive at an estimate of the loss from malaria. 

Each family cultivated an average of 16 acres. The plantation depended 
upon the tenants for labor to cultivate an average of 8.23 acres each on 
the day-wage basis. This amounted to a total of 24.23 acres to be culti- 
vated by the labor represented in each tenant family, and equivalent to 
13.51 acres of cotton. The total loss of time of 13.79 families is equiva- 
lent to that of the total crop on 186.3 acres of cotton. With an average 
yield of one-half of a bale of cotton per acre, this would equal a total loss 


of 93.15 bales of cotton. Allowing $70 a bale for the lint and seed, this 
would amount to $6,520.5o. 46 

Climate as a bar to settlement and a handicap to the energy and 
industry conducive to a high state of civilization may thus be shown 
to resolve itself into innumerable factors of which diet, hookworm, 
and malaria are by no means least. Dr. Woods Hutchinson has 
said that when we hear much of climate as an obstacle to civiliza- 
tion we should read "malaria" for "climate." Some observers have 
professed to see subtle psychic influences arising from malaria 
infection. Dr. Hutchinson cites the singular apathy and indiffer- 
ence, numbing the moral sense of white colonists in the tropics, 
and alternating with outbursts of "tropical wrath." Remarkably 
enough he attributes "those wild outbursts of primitive ferocity in 
all classes" which take the form of white cap raids and lynching 
mobs "partly to the baneful, persistent influence of malaria, to- 
gether with the hookworm disease." 47 Compared to Dr. Hutchin- 
son's tropical rage, the listlessness of the chronic malarial patient 
is a very real thing. Its direct and indirect effect on the develop- 
ment of southern civilization has been incalculable. 


A great many areas of potential resources in the South lie un- 
developed because of malaria. Many cities and towns find their 
population ratios stationary or diminishing and their economic 
and civic affairs stagnant because of this disease in even its milder 
forms. As practical men of business often say, nothing puts a 
blight on real estate like malaria. However, if to malaria may 
be attributed much regional inefficiency formerly charged to cli- 
mate, the strictures passed on the southern scene by critics like 
Huntington do not cut so deep. Diseases, it is suggested, may be 
eradicated though climate and weather persist unchanged. Writ- 
ing in a caustic vein for a non-technical magazine an official of 
the public health service sees no easy road to eradication. 

The major health problem of this desolate region is simple enough. . . . 
Drain all the swamps, sink holes and barrow pits, screen all the houses 

** Frederick L. Hoffman, The Malaria Problem in Peace and War, pp. 34-36. 
See articles by D. L. Van Dine in Scientific Monthly, November, 1916, and Southern 
Medical Journal, March, 1915. 

47 Preventable Diseases, pp. 292-93. 


and put shoes on thousands and then train them all to cleanly habits of 
living. In brief, the whole thing is as simple and easy as it would be 
for a one-armed man to empty the Great Lakes with a spoon. 48 

But it may be said that malaria statistics in even the worst 
areas afford a more cheering prospect. Mortality reports for the 
nation show that deaths from malaria from 1919 to 1928 were re- 
duced by one third. The trying period from 1915 to 1930 saw 
reported morbidity in Mississippi fall from 153,707 to 49,538 cases. 
Delta counties witnessed a decline from 50,243 cases in 1915 to 27,222 
in 1929 with a further fall to 7,580 in 1930. This last great decrease 
is, no doubt, partly due to a change in methods of reporting cases. 
Table XXXIX above shows the decreases in morbidity rates and the 
percentages of mortality for both races. 

The problem in the South is to find whether methods of in- 
tensive attack, analogous to those which proved successful in the 
suppression of hookworm, can be applied to the control of mala- 
ria. 49 The change from men to mosquitoes and back again is 
necessary for the continued existence of the malaria parasite. This 
transition can be made the point of attack by one of four methods 
of control: (i) get rid of all Anopheles mosquitoes, (2) prevent 
their access to man, (3) free all persons in the community from 
malaria parasites, (4) by means of quinine protect all persons 
against infection. 50 Theoretically, then, the problem is relatively 
simple, but in practice the interaction of geography with the whole 
complex of socio-economic phenomena makes malaria control par- 
ticularly baffling. 

The advantages of eradication of all Anopheles are outstanding. 
The main work is done once for all when drainage is accom- 
plished, and the upkeep is small. The work, moreover, is done 
with materials of earth and water and cannot be nullified by the 
carelessness or bad faith of refractory human factors. Unfortu- 
nately for many areas such a procedure is impossible. Geography 
and topography prevent ditching and drainage, as in the lower 
reaches of sluggish rivers and the Mississippi Delta. This, how- 
ever, can be overcome in restricted districts, as, for example, cities 
in the Delta. It is not necessary to clean up a whole region in or- 

48 T. J. B. LeBlanc, "Malaria," American Mercury, III, 371. 

49 Rockefeller Foundation, Annual Report, 1915, p. 72. 
60 H. R. Carter, of. cit., p. 6. 


der to render it malaria free. The Canal Zone is regarded as 
a particularly happy experiment in malaria control, and yet only 
10 per cent of the area, that surrounding cities, is mosquito free. 
War experience with southern cantonments showed that, when 
the expense involved is disregarded, any spot can be controlled re- 
gardless of the condition of the surrounding terrain. 

Malaria control is after all a matter of getting public support, 
and here the elimination of only the Anopheles mosquito collides 
with popular psychology. "The average layman," writes a county 
health officer, "while willing to accept the mosquito-borne theory 
thinks you are splitting hairs too much in laying all the blame on 
one species of that family. As long as you have mosquitoes 
puncturing the hide of the average farmer you are going to do 
very little work in malaria control unless you go after the whole 
tribe." 51 It is possible, moreover, that freedom from the mos- 
quito nuisance makes as strong an appeal to the normal com- 
munity as the elimination of malaria. Culex control, however, 
often takes as much as 75 per cent of available funds and can 
hardly be regarded as a public health problem. It is thus almost 
impossible for public health officials to keep mosquito control to 
its scientific minimum and retain popular support. 

Mosquito control in its final analysis will be found to depend 
upon what we may call social demography. A low density of 
population places limits on any fight that may be made against 
the mosquito. Again the rural South is at a disadvantage. "The 
expense of mosquito control in a community is roughly propor- 
tional to the area of breeding which lies within the limits of flight 
to the dwelling section of that community." As it has been stated 
by Dr. H. R. Carter, the expense per capita varies inversely as 
the population per unit of area. 52 In actual field work this has 
meant that feasible methods of exterminating the Anopheles can 
be used only in towns and cities. 

The urban campaign against malaria in the Southern States 
got under way 1 in 1917 hi and about the army camps. Inside the 
camp the work was supervised by the army, outside the Public 
Health Service enlisted the assistance of state and community 
agencies. Smaller and poorer communities after 1918 hesitated 

61 International Health Board, Ninth Report, p. 114. 
61 Op. cit., p. 7. 


to carry on work begun as a war measure regardless of expense. 
The International Health Board, fresh from triumphs over hook- 
worm, undertook with the Public Health Service and state and 
local agencies to demonstrate experimental methods of control. 53 
The first step, the sanitary survey, is likely to be found encourag- 
ing in that it shows the existence of a limited number of foci of 
infection, irregularly distributed. Many foci of breeding are man- 
made, as fish ponds, mill ponds, barrow pits from highway con- 
struction and hydro-electric developments. Experiments have 
shown that with a careful preliminary survey a community may 
rid itself of infection at a per capita cost of from $0.45 to fi.oo. In 
1921 despite unfavorable climatic and financial conditions the In- 
ternational Health Board could report 225 square miles controlled 
and 228,740 persons protected. 54 In the new towns the per capita 
cost averaged $1.01. In thirty-five towns where measures were 
already established 25 cents was the average per capita cost of 
maintenance. Data from thirteen installation towns showed the 
main items of expense to average as follows: ditching $345.00 per 
mile, clearing streams $95.00 per mile, and oiling $3.00 per mile. 
The average cost of maintenance was $16.00 per mile. The reduc- 
tion of malaria as measured in physicians' calls has reached as 
high as 90 per cent in some towns. 

Experimental work has been done on many types of munici- 
palities. Crossett, Arkansas, in 1918, was a lumbering town of 
2,029 people, surrounded by swamps and sluggish streams. Mala- 
ria took 60 per cent of the time devoted to practice by all local 
physicians. A program of drainage, filling, and application of 
oil and larvacides effected within a year a reduction of physician's 
calls for malaria by 82.7 per cent. The cost was $2,505.90 or $i. 23^/2 
for each resident of the town. Four other towns in Arkansas, of 
distinct topographical types, have under supervision controlled 
malaria. Lake Village is in a level, low-lying area of buckshot 
soil with two miles of lake front and an extensive area of shallow 
swamps in the rear. Its 1,388 physicians' calls for malaria in 1917 
for 975 people were reduced to 83 the next year, a decrease of 94.8 
per cent at a per capita cost of $1.25. Dermott, with a population 
of 2,760, possessed abundant stagnant pools within its city limits 

63 Tenth Report, p. 54. 

64 Eighth Report, pp. 92-94. 


because of the utter neglect of the elementary principles of drain- 
age in the grading of two railroads and the streets of the town. 
An expenditure of forty-five cents per inhabitant reduced calls 
for malaria by 87.8 per cent. Monticello is a typical hill town, 
whose many clear streams with inadequate fall over stiff clay soil 
produced an abundant supply of mosquitoes. In 1917 its 3,023 
people needed 1,271 doctor's visits for malaria. By an expenditure of 
46 cents per inhabitant these calls were reduced by 89.8 per cent. 
Bauxite, a rambling mining community, covered a large area 
with its 2,500 people. Extensive hillside seepage and heavy flow 
of numerous small streams through sand beds offered ideal breed- 
ing conditions. In this difficult public health area a per capita 
expenditure of fi.n accounted for a 78.4 per cent decrease in 
malaria, as measured by doctors' calls. 55 

Neither the Public Health Service nor the International Health 
Board can rid an area of malaria except as a demonstration. Le- 
gally the work remains under control of state and local authorities. 
The goal of these projects was achieved, therefore, when the towns 
took over the maintenance of malaria control. The above com- 
munities had been paying one and a half times as much for doc- 
tors' bills alone as the cost of the first year's operation. The cost of 
upkeep ranged from one fourth to one eighth of previous annual 
payments to physicians. 56 

Between 1920 and 1922 plans of control were carried out in 
over a hundred municipalities and their surrounding areas. From 
this experience was evolved a standard method applicable to any 
infected area of dense population and moderately high per capita 
income. Malaria control is now regarded as within the reach 
of any municipality in the South that is willing to pay for it. The 
Board accordingly withdrew from the urban demonstration and in 
its 1926 Report made the flat statement: "As a result of this work 
malaria has practically disappeared from the cities and towns o 
the republic." 57 


The control of malaria in towns even in small towns, as the 
Rockefeller Foundation well says, does not reach the heart of the 

56 Report, Rockefeller Foundation, 1918, pp. 186-93. 

66 Ibid., p. 193. 

67 P. 119- 


problem in the South. 58 It frankly remains a serious question 
as to whether in large rural areas mosquito control is practicable. 
Only in countries having full-time health service in areas where 
the disease possesses economic importance has it been found ad- 
visable to feature malaria control. Public health authorities must 
be resigned to the fact that in no rural area will the experimental 
work in control meet success so complete or spectacular as in the 
towns. 59 

Writing in 1919, a period of war-time prosperity in agriculture, 
Dr. Henry R. Carter felt that in many rural districts of the South 
there was not tq be found one third of the malaria that existed 
in the 'eighties. 60 The reason he found in economic conditions, 
the rise in the price of cotton, and the fall in the price of quinine. 
Better economic conditions in agriculture lead to the clearing, 
drainage, and intensive cultivation of more land. Improved health 
results in greater energy and output of work which lead in time 
to prosperity. In course of time, also, economic advancement may 
be expected to go over into higher levels of culture, a complex 
which includes screening, knowledge of hygiene, and use of med- 
icines. Improvement in a region's health remains, however, a 
factor of scientific direction no less than of economic cycles. 

Several scientific discoveries in the biology of Anopheles have 
recently revived the hope that rural control is not impossible of 
achievement. M. Bruin Mitzmain of the Public Health Service 
discovered that the parasites of malaria do not live through the 
winter in the bodies of mosquitoes which hibernate in central 
Mississippi. Therefore, man is the winter carrier of malaria, and 
sterilization of carriers is a logical procedure. Rural Anopheles 
control is hardly possible, but it has been shown by H. R. Carter 
and confirmed by S. T. Darling that, of the three species of 
Anopheles found in the South, only one, the A. quadrimaculatus, 
carries parasites. Since its seasonal prevalence and preferential 
breeding places are known, these facts resolve malaria control into 
much simpler elements. A study of the range of this malaria 
mosquito proved that most were captured within a radius of three 
fourths of a mile from the breeding place. Some few were found 

58 Annual Report, 1918, p. 193. 

"International Health Board, Thirteenth Report, p. 121. 

80 Malaria Problem of the South, p. 5. 


within ranges from onq to one and three fourths miles but none 
beyond. In 1921 Dr. M. A. Barber of the United States Public 
Health Service made the further discovery that Paris green makes 
an excellent larvaecide. One part mixed with 100 parts dust sprin- 
kled on ponds kills Anopheles larvae with no dangers to man or 
beast. 61 

Mitzmain's discovery led to attempts to control by quinine 
sterilization all malaria carriers. Theoretically, it should be pos- 
sible to stamp out malaria in America by freeing the blood stream 
of all individuals during the winter months. Actually the ad- 
ministration of standard quinine dosages under best control con- 
ditions possible has proved insufficient to prevent a large number 
of spring relapses. The method lessens the virulence of epidemics, 
reduces greatly the number of days lost through illness, but in 
many cases serves only to mask the symptoms. 62 A further handi- 
cap in the South has been the well-nigh universal consumption, in 
the form of chill tonics, of quinine solutions too weak to be ef- 
fective. One valuable result which came from this type of dem- 
onstration was the adoption by physicians, public health workers, 
and the Malaria Commission of a standard dosage of ten grains of 
quinine daily for eight weeks. 

It still remains possible that to prevent the access of mosquitoes 
to man is the most logical method of rural control. It is true that 
the rural population has never given screening an adequate trial. 
One county in Mississippi, surveyed in 1922, showed 44 per cent 
of rural homes well screened, 12 per cent partly screened, and 44 
per cent not screened at all. A field experiment was conducted in 
1916 on a group of cotton plantations with high Anopheles ratio 
and malaria incidence near Lake Village, Arkansas. The average 
cost of screening was $14.59 per house, the screens lasted two 
years, and the average per capita cost was $1.75. The method 
thus proved expensive as contrasted with municipal control, and 
the results doubtful. 63 

The countryside by all accounts is thus brought back to the 
problem of elimination of mosquitoes with the problem simpli- 
fied but by no means solved. Science has shown that the quest 

61 International Health Board, Report, 1922, p. 114. 

02 Twelfth Report, 1925, p. 77. 

83 Rockefeller Foundation, Report, 1918, pp. 193-94- 


may be limited to one species breeding in still waters, and that 
the time of the hunt may be limited from May to October. Some 
malariologists are willing to attribute the prevalence of the dis- 
ease to a small number of fat, lazy, long-lived, house-loving female 
anophelines who carry the disease. Another group which feels 
that major drainage operations are necessary encounters on the 
other hand the advocates of the top minnow, Gambuscia, feeding 
upon wrigglers and aided by applications of Paris green. The per 
capita cost of application of this larvaecide has been comparatively 
slight, as low as 24 cents in a demonstration around Edenton, North 
Carolina. Still another school sees the source of infection in hu- 
man carriers and advocates the compulsory dosing with quinine 
of the whole population. 

The battle is slow and long. There still awaits a method, cheap, 
common-sense, and convincing. It may not be found. It is diffi- 
cult to see how any effort short of Herculean can offer to control 
malaria in the tidal reaches, the plains of sluggish coastal rivers, 
the bayou swamps, and the cuts of the great Father of Waters 
meandering lazily through the deltas under his sway. Our last 
school of malariologists may be correct when they hold that mala- 
ria tends to disappear only when a people reach a comparatively 
high economic and cultural level. 64 

The conclusion of the chapter may be briefly stated. Much of 
the inefficiency and comparative lack of energy attributed to the 
climate of the South may be laid with justice at the door of the so- 
called concealed diseases. With their passing, no doubt, the so- 
called "poor whites" will pass into the realm of legend and myth. 
The position of Sir Patrick Manson in his Tropical Diseases is 
well taken in regard to hookworm and malaria in the South: 
"The more we learn about these diseases the less important in its 
bearing on their geographic distribution and as a direct pathogenic 
agency becomes the, rdle of temperature per se and the more that 
of tropical fauna." As the parasites peculiar to the South are grad- 
ually brought under control we may expect a notable release of 
the energies of its population. As this results in higher cultural 
standards it will operate to speed the eradication of these concealed 

64 Rockefeller Foundation, Report, 1928, pp. 34-37. 




SOMEWHERE on the outer edge of the uncharted field of human 
geography lies an undeveloped sector, the geography of nutrition. 
The mapping of the world's dietary, province by province, would 
avail to show a functional relation with soil and plant and animal 
complexes. For basic diet men will, no doubt, continue to eat the 
products their lands will grow. In this the study resembles the 
geography of disease, for men tend to have the maladies trans- 
mitted by the minute organisms native to their regions. The 
second task of a proposed geography of nutrition transcends the 
first in difficulty and significance. The relation of diet to health 
and social efficiency represents the application of the ecology of 
diet to social adequacy. Any suggested analysis of regional diet, 
health, and efficiency was of necessity held in check to await the 
development of bio-chemistry. 

The South has proved at the hands of the public health move- 
ment a great laboratory for testing the biology of disease. It may 
prove at the hands of; the social scientist no less a laboratory for 
the study of the human geography of diet. It may be said to 
hold this position on several counts. An area especially prolific in 
plant and animal life has acquired a reputation for deficient diet. 
This diet is especially related to the characteristic pioneer stage 
through which the whole country passed and has been confirmed 
and established in the South by the plantation and the cotton 
system. Moreover, certain facts suggest that the diet is particularly 
maladapted to the climate and thus has more influence on the sec- 
tion's social characteristics than is generally realized. 

The biochemistry of nutrition while making advances in the 
last decades in no sense ranks in scientific exactness with the bi- 
ology of disease. In one instance, however, the two combine to 


afford an enlightening index to dietetic regimens. Pellagra ac- 
cepted as a nutritional disease is of less importance in its own 
right than as an index of dietary conditions. Nutritional diseases 
themselves are too occasional and sporadic to do more than indicate 
the most flagrant dietary maladjustments. It is to the problem 
of dietary regimens and human adequacy that the former specula- 
tions concerning diet and race must bow as of more pressing im- 
portance. 1 


Early travelers in America appear to have been torn between 
amazement and despair at the food habits of its people. About 
1800, Ashe, whom Henry Adams called an amusing and untrust- 
worthy Englishman, said of Kentucky: "In a country then where 
bacon and spirits form the favorite summer repast, it cannot be 
just to attribute entirely the causes of infirmity to the climate. 
No people on earth live with less regard to regimen. They eat 
salt meat three times a- day, seldom or never have any vegetables, 
and drink ardent spirits from morn till night. They have not 
only an aversion to fresh meat but a vulgar prejudice that it is 
unwholesome. The truth is, their stomachs are depraved by burn- 
ing liquors and they have no appetite for anything but what is 
highly flavored and strongly impregnated by salt." 2 

Cooper in a novel describing American customs of 1784 had 
a frontier mother say: "Give me the children that's raised on good 
sound pork afore all the game in the country. Game's good as a 
relish and so's bread; but pork is the staff of life. . . . My children 
I calkulate to bring up on pork." 3 

No better regimen could have been invented for ruining the 
health, said the traveler, Volney, than that of the Americans. 
"They swallow, almost without chewing, hot bread half baked, 
toast soaked in butter, cheese of the fattest kind, slices of salt or 
briny beef and bacon. ... At dinner they have boiled pastes un- 
der the name of puddings, and the fattest are esteemed the most 
delicious; all their sauces even for roast beef are melted butter, 
their turnips and potatoes swim in hog's lard, butter or fat; under 

1 As F. P. Armitage's attempts to associate salt and light pigmentation, diet and 
cranial development, etc., in Diet and Race. 

2 Quoted in Henry Adams, History of the United States, 1801-1805, I, 43. 

3 Chainbearer, quoted by Adams, op. cit. 

the name of pie or puddings their pastry is nothing but a greasy 
paste never sufficiently baked. ... As Castlelux says, the whole 
day passes in heaping indigestions on one another; and to give 
tone to the poor, relaxed, and wearied stomach, they drink Madeira, 
rum, French brandy, gin or malt spirits, which complete the ruin 
of the nervous system." 4 Especially did the English traveler de- 
test the American fondness for greasy foods. "The heavy diet 
and the use of animal food at every meal was looked upon by the 
English as the cause of many American diseases." 5 Poor teeth 
among American women were often attributed to hot foods, 
salted foods, sweets, and preserves. 6 

By 1850 the frontier had receded somewhat, but American diet 
had not changed sufficiently to impress the critics. The news- 
papers were filled with advertisements of cures for indigestion, which 
indicated that the stomachs of the nation were subject to great strain. 
The three meals of the day were practically identical. "Meat was over 
abundant and fresh vegetables were too few. This generation did in- 
deed learn to eat tomatoes, but not to make salads. In the church 
socials rivalry was keen in the production of cakes of elaboration 
and succulence, and if sauces were few, as Talleyrand had earlier 
remarked, relishes were many and recipes for them highly prized." 7 

William C. Duncan held the diet of Mississippi Valley settlers 
in the fifties to be rich, varied, and abundant, consisting, however, 
almost always of too much animal food in proportion to the 
vegetable. "A common fault everywhere and one that ought to 
be remedied," he wrote, "is bad cooking. Of the food thus ill- 
prepared too much is eaten, and too hastily, to the great detriment 
of health." 8 

The inevitable Olmsted, fresh from his tour of the South, be- 
lieved that "wholesome water and wholesome fresh fruits are not 
to be obtained by the traveler in the largest part of the United 
States. Bacon, fat and salt, is the stock article of diet. He must 
satisfy his appetite with this or with coarse or most indigestible 
forms of bread. In either case he will have an unnatural thirst 
and the only means ordinarily offered him at country houses for 

4 Quoted by Adams, op. cit., I, 44. 

5 Louise Jane Mesick, The English Traveler in America, 1785-1835, p. 59. 
* Ibid., p. 90. 

7 Carl Russel Fish, Rise of the Common Man, 1830-1850, p. 140. 

8 In DC Bow's Industrial Resources of the United States, I. 


satisfying this, will be an exceedingly dirty and unpalatable decoction 
of coffee, of which the people usually consume an excessive quan- 
tity, or alcoholic liquor of the most fiery and pernicious descrip- 
tion." 9 

Agreed as to the undesirability of alcohol, Governor Hammond 
of South Carolina defended the social efficiency of frontier diet 
for the South. "All the fermented and distilled liquors which in 
cold climates are in some sort necessaries are here uncalled for and 
injurious indulgences. Corn bread and bacon, as much as the 
epicure may sneer at them, with fresh meat only occasionally 
and a moderate use of garden vegetables will in this region at 
least give to the laborer greater strength of muscle and constitu- 
tion, enable him to undergo more fatigue, and insure him longer 
life and more enjoyment of it than any other diet. And these in- 
deed with coffee constitute the habitual food of the great body 
of southern people." 10 He proceeds to estimate 13 bushels of corn, 
1 60 pounds o bacon, with sugar, coffee, and green vegetables, all 
amounting to $19 per year, as the annual cost per man of whole- 
some and palatable food purchased in the market. 

In the 'eighties Edward King found the frontier diet the staff 
of life for the common man of the South especially in pioneer 
Texas. "The mass of people in the interior still have a hearty 
scorn for anything good to eat. The bitter coflfee and the greasy 
pork or bacon as it is always called, still adorns the tables of most 
farmers." Whenever a luckless beefsteak found its way to the 
table it had been fried until not a particle of juice remained in 
its substance. "A railroad president inspecting a route in North- 
ern Texas stopped at a little house for dinner. The old lady oil 
the homestead, wishing to treat her guest with becoming dignity, 
inquired in the kindest manner after having spread the usual food 
before him 'Won't you have a little bacon fat to wallop your corn 
dodgers in now, won't ye?'" This was the acme of hospitality 
in that region. "Now and then . . . a housewife will venture a 
timid 'reckon ye don't think much of our home-made fare do ye?' 
when the visitor is a stranger and indeed he shows upon his face 
his wonder that a well-to-do farmer's stout sons and pretty daugh- 
ters are satisfied with pork and molasses and clammy biscuits with 

9 Frederick Law Olmsted, A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States, II, 279-80. 

10 De Bow's Resources of the South, III, 31. 


no vegetables whatever." 11 Horace Greeley told the people of 
Texas that their prime need was a thousand good cooks. The in- 
vitation to hospitality in early Texas as reported by Olmsted was 
a gruff, "Sit up stranger and take some fry." Sidney Andrews, 
traveling in the South in 1866, said, "The southern consumption of 
grease of fat in one form or another would, I am sure, astonish 
even an Arctic explorer." 12 

Food habits become a thing of propriety and right, and a mark 
of social and class distinctions. There is more than a hint of the 
frontier tradition in the address of a southern governor to his rural 
audience: "If one of them high collared, fly-weight dudes of the 
East had sense enough to set down to a big dish of turnip greens, 
poke sallet, and hog jowl he might sweat or! enough of that talcum 
powder to look like a man." Comparable, of course, are the 
sporadic controversies concerning the advisability of "dunking" 
corn pone in "pot-likker" with which southern governors some- 
times regale their constituencies. 

One can hardly deny the semblance of truth to this running 
description of the diet of the common man in the South. It is 
a picture that travelers and takers of social notes with few excep- 
tions have conspired to paint. For its existence reason can be 
found. Such a diet is both a social heritage and an adjustment to 

In the main the early American settler brought with him the 
food habits of the English common man including a great, if 
often unsatisfied, fondness for meats. He found Indian maize an 
integral part of the native plant complex and was early taught 
its methods of culture by the Indians. The frontier, because of its 
paucity of resources, stripped this diet of whatever variety it pos- 
sessed and added corn which came to take the place held by wheat. 
A reflective Tennessee pioneer has written: 

Suppose our fathers had had to depend on wheat for their bread. It 
would have taken them a hundred years longer to reach the Rockies. 
. . . Corn will produce four times as much as wheat per acre and re- 
quires only one tenth of the seed to seed it down and only one third of 
the time from planting it till it can be used as food. Wheat must have 
prepared soil, and be sown in the fall and watched and guarded for nine 

"Edward King, The Great South, pp. 182-83. 
^The South Since the War, pp. 181-82. 


months before it is even ready to harvest; whereas a woman can take a 
"sang hoe" in April and with a quart of seed plant a patch around a 
cabin and in six weeks she and the children can begin to eat roasting 
ears; and when it [sic] gets too hard for that she can parch it. She needs 
to gather only what she uses for the day, for it will stand all winter, well 
protected by its waterproof shuck. Not so with wheat. It must be all 
gathered at once when ripe, and thrashed, cleaned, and garnered. And 
even then it is hard to get bread out of it without a mill. But a small 
sack of parched corn with a bit of salt was an ample supply for a ten 
days' hunt with Jack Sevier after thieving Indians. Corn was King 
when I was a boy. 13 

Especially, because of the abundance of wild game and the 
strenuous life of the woodsmen, did the frontier accentuate the 
heritage of meat. The increasing scarcity of game as the frontier 
advanced ill comported with the climate and lack of preservatives. 
From fresh meat the frontiersman turned more and more to a 
salted diet. With a meat diet firmly entrenched, the docility and 
hardihood of the prolific porker fixed on the frontier the culture 
trait of salt pork. The immense early importance of salt mines 
and the salt trade in the back country is related to this complex 
of diet. Hogs thrive on corn and complete their growth in one 
season. It has been estimated that 24 per cent of the energy of 
grain consumed is recovered for human consumption in pork as 
compared with about 18 per cent in milk and 3.5 per cent in beef 
or mutton. 14 The drinking of distilled liquors, developed in the 
cold foggy climate of Britain and accepted as a part of the cultural 
heritage, proved more of a maladjustment on a semi-tropic south- 
ern frontier. It is likely, however, that so monotonous a diet could 
be made palatable only by strong coffee or strong waters favorite 
beverages of frontier peoples. The southern climate made possible 
the easy cultivation of ribbon and sorghum cane so that early in 
its history the section supplemented the pioneer diet of pork and 
corn with a disproportionate consumption of molasses. 

In the South, the transition from frontier to plantation saddled 
the minimum frontier regimen upon the slaves as their permanent 
staples of diet. A weekly allowance for each slave of three pounds 
of pork, a peck of corn, a pint of salt, and molasses in proportion 

13 Quoted by E. C. Brooks, The Story of Corn, p. 134. 

14 H. P. Armsby, "The Cost of Roast Pig," Science, XL VI, 160. 


became standard for thousands of plantations. In winter a bushel 
of sweet potatoes might be substituted for the corn meal. This 
regimen fitted well with the close-paced routine of cotton culture 
which left little time for variation. For the common man the 
transition from frontier to modern rural society was not so marked 
as to cause a break in the food habits of the people. When a people 
in the midst of a land capable of variety limit their diet to a few 
staples they are in the grip of tradition. This heritage growing 
out of geographic adjustments has so conditioned food likes and 
dislikes that it determines both the growth and purchases of foods. 
Moreover, since meat, meal, and molasses are cheap, the poverty of 
a backward agriculture has further served to localize within the 
southern borders the basic diet of the frontier. 

But out of this same transition from frontier to plantation arose 
the South's tradition of good cooking. More than one chronicler 
has doubted whether the preparation of appetizing foods has ever 
been brought to higher perfection than by that scion of old Vir- 
ginia, Colonel Carter of Cartersville. 15 Any number of old south- 
ern cookbooks with recipes collected from people "who keep good 
tables and use only southern cooking" may be assembled to testify 
to this point. "A glance at the contents of this book," says one, 
"will, I am sure, recall to any Southerner the dishes of his child- 
hood Smithfield ham, chicken salad, rich cakes and puddings, 
cold drinks and fragrant coffee, from the days when the plantation 
owners ate what they wanted and wanted good food." 16 As pre- 
sented by U. B. Phillips, the table regimen of the tidal and alluvial 
aristocracy was variety, profusion, and repletion. The gastronomic 
ambition of every southern host to the manor born was to keep 
flowing from the cookhouse a steady stream of hot breads hot 
enough to melt butter. 17 The well-known southern devotion to 
hot breads appears to have a frontier origin. In a society which 
lacked wheat flour, corn meal which cannot be made into a loaf 
proved most palatable when served hot. When flour finally be- 
came available to a pioneer society accustomed to hot hoecakes, its 

15 See J. H. Beard, "The Gastronomy of Colonel Carter of Cartersville," Scientific 
Monthly, 26, pp. 246-49. 

16 Mary D. Pretlow, Old Southern Receipts, foreword. 

17 U. B. Phillips, Life and Labor in the Old South, pp. 4, 336. 


most obvious use was in the preparation of hot biscuits. 18 Be 
that as it may, the trait survives in many southern homes, where 
failure to provide hot biscuits three times a day almost vies with 
Scriptural grounds as sanction for divorce. "On the hottest evenings 
of summer women all over the South must fire up cookstoves to 
prepare steaming grits, hot biscuits, fried ham and eggs." 19 In 
the 'eighties, Edward King, who held that no northern traveler 
ever went South without returning to complain with great bitter- 
ness of the food, admitted that nowhere in the world might be 
found better cooking or richer bills of fare than in Baltimore, 
Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans. 20 Thus it happened, as 
Dorothy Dickens points out, that alongside the common man din- 
ing daily off corn pone, salt pork, molasses, and coffee must be 
placed his prosperous neighbor who fares sumptuously every day 
on fried chicken, candied yams, gravy, and hot biscuits. 21 


The shift from the table set by our pioneer forefathers to the 
menus of our urban middle classes may be accounted one of the 
notable triumphs of modern science. The adjustment of diet to 
the needs of the organism and the region has possessed until re- 
cently no scientific criteria. Only within the last generation have 
the physical and biological sciences developed methods of research 
into the adequacy of human diet. Young as is the study, through the 
investigations of Voit, Pettenhofer, Rubner, Atwater, Lusk, Ben- 
edict, Osborne, McCollum, and others, it has gone through several 
cycles of research and the end is not yet. First to be explored was 
the physics of diet. Measurement of the energy liberated by foods 
in combustion enabled students to estimate the number of calories 
afforded in the menu. To balance a meal was to ration foods ac- 
cording to their energy producing qualities; and in one chain of 
restaurants at least the customer might take heed of his menu. 
The chemistry of diet had already arrived to point out the neces- 
sity for balance among the essential elements, fat, carbohydrates, 

18 This suggestion comes from Emily Stevens Maclachlan in her M.A. thesis, 
"The South's Dietary Pattern," University of North Carolina, 1932, p. 29. 

19 Ibid., p. 29. 

The Great South, p. 791. 

21 "A Study of Food Habits of White People in Two Contrasting Areas of 
Mississippi," Bulletin 245, Mississippi A. and M., p. 3. 

and protein. This balance could be measured in terms of calories, 
and beans and cheese since they contained protein might be sub- 
stituted for meat. Of equal importance was the necessity of an 
adequate supply of mineral salts which go to make up tissues of 
muscle, bone, ligament, and new cells. 

However, when E. V. McCollum fed chemically perfect ra- 
tions to rats they wasted away and died. 22 Thus was investigated 
the biology of diet which discovered in milk, eggs, oranges, and 
tomatoes, glandular organs and leafy vegetables the vitamins. Of 
the six or seven found, one protects against scurvy, another rickets, 
one furthers growth, another protects against pellagra, another 
beri-beri, another governs fertility. "Retardation of growth in 
children, faulty posture, tendency to nervousness, defective teeth 
and faulty skeletal development," according to McCollum, result 
from lack of vitamins. "Five hundred persons suffering from 
arthritis, rheumatism, heart disease, diabetes, sick headaches, and 
other degenerative diseases who were tested by Dr. Lovell Loy- 
stroth of San Francisco, were found to be living on a diet consist- 
ing almost wholly of bread, meat, potatoes, sugar, and other food 
poor in vitamins. When their menus were changed to a protective 
diet consisting mainly of eggs, milk, fruit, and vegetables, 73 per- 
cent of the cases improved or recovered." 23 

The latest advance in dietetics is somewhat in debate. It has 
been indeterminately placed by the critics somewhere between food 
fads and science. It is based on the necessity of maintaining an 
alkaline reserve in the blood stream and is directed to correct con- 
ditions leading to acidosis. In order to rid the body of its acids 
they must be combined with alkaline elements. The acid-form- 
ing foods are meats, legumes, fats, starches, cereals, and proteins. 
Alkaline foods are most vegetables, fruits, and milk. Citrus fruits 
are alkaline in final reaction because of their large content of pot- 
ash. The foundation of health is thus an alkaline blood stream 
in which the five alkaline elements, sodium, potassium, iron, mag- 
nesium, and calcium, overbalance the four acid elements, silicon, 
chlorine, sulphur, and phosphorus. Accordingly, from 60 to 80 

22 E. V. McCollum, The New Knowledge of Nutrition, passim. 

23 See article by Eunice Fuller Baird "In Food Also, A New Fashion Is Here" 
New Yort^ Times Magazine, May 4, 1930, p. n. 


per cent of the total food intake should be alkaline. 24 One need 
not follow this theory to the last detail to find the diet of the South 
indicted because of its devotion to meats, starches, fats, and cereals. 
Conditions of acidity may be normally expected from such menus. 
Each of the main contributions in the physics, the chemistry, 
and the biology of diet calories, mineral salts, vitamins, balancing 
of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and of acid and alkaline 
foods have stood supplemented by the others. The need of rough- 
age in diet, the necessity of preserving alkaline reserve in the blood, 
the liver diet for pernicious anaemia, the sugarless diet for di- 
abetes, and other specialized regimen have come, but the main 
substructure of dietetic science seems to have been laid. A quart of 
milk and a salad twice a day are Dr. McCollum's prescription for 
the average adult. The standard agreed upon by nutritionists as 
an adequate daily diet has been summed up as follows: 25 

Milk One quart a day 


Potatoes (white or sweet) Once a day 

Others (preferably leafy) Twice a day 


Cooked Once a day 

Raw (or raw vegetables Twice a day 

or canned tomatoes) 

Eggs Four times a week 

Lean meat Three or four times a week 

Whole grain Twice a day 

cereal or breads 


The dictates of the laboratory have been followed by America's 
upper and middle classes with amazing celerity and unanimity. 
The increase in the consumption of oranges, grape fruit, milk, and 
green vegetables has been unexpected and startling. New York 
City consumes proportionately twice as much fruits and vegetables 
as it did ten years ago; lettuce has increased in popularity in res- 
taurants sevenfold. Cafeteria chains estimate that salad orders 

24 See Floyd W. Parsons, "What Shall We Eat?" The World's Wor\, July, 1927, 
pp. 219-26. 

25 H. C. Sherman, Chemistry of Food and Nutrition, pp. 9, 325. 

have doubled; dairy lunches and corner fruit stands have sprung 
up overnight. The dairy industry has grown much faster than 
the population, milk and ice cream have almost doubled their 
popularity, and in one national chain of restaurants dairy products 
make up 39 per cent of the food purchased. 26 

The social transition from frontier diet has been clearly pointed 
out by the Lynds in their study of Middletown. 27 This mid- 
western town like the rest of the country in 1890 lived on two diets: 
one for winter and one for summer. Provided she served meat 
three times a day, the housewife was at liberty to swap about in 
search of combinations of meats and starches. The repetition of 
steaks, roasts, macaroni, fish, sweet potatoes, turnips, fried apples, 
and stewed tomatoes was responsible for time spent in the kitchen 
on pickles, chow-chow, preserves, pies and cakes to add relish to 
meals. After the heavy winter diet came spring sickness. Spring 
tonics were urged upon people together with green garden stuff 
and sarsaparilla to alleviate the expected boils, thick blood, sluggish- 
ness, and spring fever. 

Rule-of-thumb methods of cooking were passed down from 
mother to daughter, with the old doctor and cookbook owned by 
every family. It is safe to say that the old cookery broke down 
under the impact of the modern women's magazines. The latest 
discoveries in food chemistry, prepared in new dishes by domestic 
science experts, imposed on housewives new habits, new tastes, and 
new skills. Impetus was given the shift by flour millers, milkmen, 
cheesemakers, meat packers, orange growers, fruit and vegetable co- 
operatives organized to exploit to the utmost the facts given into 
their hands by science. Luscious, succulent dishes in colors came to 
dominate the advertising pages. 

Raymond Pearl's analysis of the consumption of food in war time 
offers a Middletown of the national dietary. 28 In the total calories 
consumed in the United States he found that wheat contributed 
over 25 per cent, pork 15 per cent, dairy products 15, sugar 13, corn 
7, and beef 5. Our frontier friend, the porker, has not been out- 
moded. "Approximately 40 per cent of the total fat in the nutri- 

28 Eunice Fuller Baird, op. cit., p. n. 

27 Robert S. and Helen M. Lynd, Middletown, pp. 156-57. 

28 Raymond Pearl, "Relative Contribution of the Staple Food Commodities to 
the National Food Consumption," Proceedings, American Philosophical Society, 1919, 
p. 209. 


tional intake of this country comes from pork and its products. 
The hog is in a class by itself as a source of fat for human nutrition 
with the population of this country." Dairy products with 27^2 per 
cent, and oils and beef with 10 per cent of each follow. Thus when 
studies by the Department of Agriculture show that pork often 
amounts to 40 per cent of the value of all food consumed in south- 
ern rural homes, this trait can be put down as an accentuation of 
national trends. 29 

Finally we now have at hand statistical studies of changes in the 
nation's consumption of foodstuffs from 1898-1902 to 1922-1926 pe- 
riods. 30 Most astonishing have been the decline in the use of ce- 
reals; the annual consumption of wheat has fallen from 224 to 176 
pounds and of corn from 126 to 46 pounds per person. Nor has the 
decreased use of breadstufls been compensated in the use of beef and 
veal which taken together has remained stationary. For while beef 
has declined eight per cent the use of veal has doubled. Moreover, 
the consumption of mutton and lamb has shown a decline of 25 
per cent. While chickens declined from 20 to 18 pounds, eggs re- 
mained at about the same annual level of consumption, 17 dozens 
annually per person. 

It appears that bread and meat, the staff of life, have given way 
before fruits, vegetables, milk, and sugar. The one exception, strange 
to say, is the South's standby, pork and lard, whose consumption has 
increased from 77 to 84 pounds, reaching 90 pounds in the period, 
1923-24. Although the fluctuating use of potatoes shows no perma- 
nent increase in consumption, the present-day American eats at 
least 15 per cent more vegetables. He has increased his eating of 
fruits from 173 to 178 pounds per year, but the great shift has come 
in milk and sugar. Whereas in 1900 he consumed 880 pounds of 
milk and its products, he now relishes 1,000 pounds a year. More- 
over, the annual use of sugar lacks but little of doubling, having in- 
creased from 68 to 109 pounds per -person. If the use of pork and 
sugar products have advanced, despite the nutrition experts, the 
consumption of milk, fruit, and vegetables shows that McCollum 
and his rats have sufficiently impressed the great American public 
so as to change that most cherished of habits the choice of